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Posted at 12:10 PM ET, 03/ 3/2011

Long toss: Which release will shock us?

By Washington Post editors

Earlier this week Adam Kilgore wrote about the different feeling on the Nationals this spring because of improved talent on the team.

Commenter twinbrook asks:

It seems most springs there is a player whose release comes as something as a shock. Last year it was Dukes. A few years ago it was John Patterson. Any guesses on who it will be this year?

What do you think? Who will be the surprise release this spring?

By Washington Post editors  | March 3, 2011; 12:10 PM ET
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This year might be different given the new team chemistry and balanced roster, though I could see Nyjer Morgan getting the boot if he doesn't produce at all. I would also look for former attorney general Alberto Gonzalez to get the axe (or Cora) if the numbers game comes into play.

Posted by: paleahy | March 3, 2011 12:21 PM | Report abuse

John Lannan

I'm not sure if he has options left so I'm considering being sent to SYR as being 'cut'. He's got to out perform Gorzelanny (who is out of options) and break even with Detwiler. Although if Ross is lights out, as is Maya, then I can see Lannan being the odd man out. Livo, JZ, Marquis are definitely in the rotation and Gorzo is definitely on the team as at least the long-man. Lannan's never been able to strike out enough guys to be a top-flight starting pitcher on a contender so of all the guys in camp, I think he's one of the more expendable.

If Rizzo to can move Marquis (to St. Louis?), then maybe he'll have a rotation spot, but only until CMW is ready to take it.

court, rfk 428 (I wish I could consolidate my handles... alas)

Posted by: sec307 | March 3, 2011 12:27 PM | Report abuse

Speaking of Dukes:

Posted by: wnorton81 | March 3, 2011 12:28 PM | Report abuse

Just to kick this section off, I want to give you my posting plan for the rest of the spring (in case you haven't figured it out already):

I will post something about how well the Orioles as a team, or a particular player, are doing in a particular spring training game, and then equate that to how much better the O's will be than the Nats during the season.

Then one of you will post something about how well the Nationals as a team, or a particular player, are doing in a particular spring training game.

Then I will post something about how Nationals fans are riduculous for getting excited about their team during spring training even though I did the exact same thing.

I know its completely irrational, but, as always, I am a complete idiot.

Posted by: P00PY__MCP00P | March 3, 2011 12:30 PM | Report abuse

Yeah, very good guy but I don't know about John Lannan's future as a National. He helped the team out when the pitching staff was incredibly lean and his sinker was working. Now that there's some competition for his spot we'll have to see where he ends up.

Posted by: Kev29 | March 3, 2011 12:33 PM | Report abuse

If Bernadina keeps up the hot bat, that includes bunt hits and a solid OBP, I could see Nyjer getting released.

Posted by: Section505203 | March 3, 2011 12:35 PM | Report abuse

And every village has at least one.

Posted by: BinM | March 3, 2011 12:35 PM | Report abuse

Thanks, Adam, you made my day. :-)
My two choices are Morgan and Marquis. These are two players who take up slots for which there is a lot of competition. However I don't think Morgan would be given his outright release. I'm sure there is some team out there who would give us the proverbial bag-o-balls for him. And who knows, this is Spring when hope springs eternal. Maybe the ol' Tony Plush from 2009 will reappear.

Posted by: twinbrook | March 3, 2011 12:37 PM | Report abuse

I think that the Nats might finally be in a position to trade excess players rather than cut them. The Rangers made a weak pass at Patterson when he was cut, and nobody dared touch Dukes (we see why yet again). When you release Willy Tavares, he might have a dead-cat bounce with another team for a week or two, but he can't really move from a desperate team to a better one easily.

My premise is supported by the Justin Maxwell trade. The outfield was finally strong enough that the Nats didn't have to pray that he might come into his own The Yankees didn't let him go through waivers to Syracuse- he still has value. The Nats have enough plausible pitchers and outfielders that they could go in a minor trade rather than make Syracuse even more crowded.


Posted by: kevincostello | March 3, 2011 12:37 PM | Report abuse

Thanks, Adam, you made my day. :-)
My two choices are Morgan and Marquis. These are two players who take up slots for which there is a lot of competition.

Posted by: twinbrook | March 3, 2011 12:37 PM

They're not going to cut either of them. If Morgan loses his CF/lead-off job, then he will be a bench OF. He's cheap and can provide something to the team (even if he didn't show it last year).

The team is looking for Marquis to bounce back and provide some trade value later this summer. They're not going to pay a guy over 7 million dollars and then cut him loose - they want something from him and then for him.

Posted by: Kev29 | March 3, 2011 12:44 PM | Report abuse

The Nats should absolutely let Nyjer go. Let Roger leadoff and shuffle Werth/Ankiel and maybe Roger in CF

Posted by: cyclehitter | March 3, 2011 12:53 PM | Report abuse

Thats a tough one. I thought Marquis right away, but KEV29 is right. They will hold onto him and leave a pitcher in the minors until they can get something for him. If he shows he is healthy and Detwiler and Maya continue to impress, Marquis could be gone in April or May. Plenty of teams need starters (Yankees, Cards, any team that blows).

So with that said, I would have to say the most likely player to be cut outright is Ryan Zimmerman...

Posted by: capsfan0837 | March 3, 2011 12:56 PM | Report abuse

True as always, BinM. I've come to value the contribution as a cautionary example.

Kev, I concur in part and dissent in part. I think they have been pretty clear that Morgan has to start, and probably lead off, to have value here.

But if he is the popular response, it isn't much of a shock, is it?

Posted by: Section3mysofa | March 3, 2011 12:59 PM | Report abuse

"They're not going to cut either of them. If Morgan loses his CF/lead-off job, then he will be a bench OF. He's cheap and can provide something to the team (even if he didn't show it last year)."

Respectfully disagree, kev29. I think they can get similar productivity off the bench from guys like Ankiel (OF defense) and Hairston (baserunning). I think if Morgan goes, he goes completely.

My pick for shocking move would be a trade of Lannan. If he had put up the same numbers for a winning team for the last three years, he would have been a 12+ game winner each year. I think a good team might take a shot at him for the back of their rotation (Yankees? Twins? Cardinals?).

Posted by: baltova1 | March 3, 2011 1:03 PM | Report abuse

But who 1. is a significant name, 2. is chronically not pulling his weight, and 3. Rizzo is getting tired of watching?

Posted by: Section3mysofa | March 3, 2011 1:03 PM | Report abuse

Poopy why not opine on the loss of Porta-potty from the Skins instead?

Posted by: periculum | March 3, 2011 1:04 PM | Report abuse

A: Wang, if he doesn't get off to a fast start.

Posted by: Section3mysofa | March 3, 2011 1:05 PM | Report abuse

I still see trade ... not release. And yes you have to consider Lannan a primary possibility ... he is a replaceable commodity but two prospects named Tom Milone and Danny Rosenbaum.

Posted by: periculum | March 3, 2011 1:05 PM | Report abuse

If Morgan doesn't win the CF job out of spring, I can seem him getting released absolutely. No need to keep him as a 5th outfielder since his meager hitting skills are replicated by Ankiel.

Marquis will get at least april to show he's worth the money before possibly getting released.

Posted by: tboss | March 3, 2011 1:05 PM | Report abuse

Oh, and 4. isn't owed a ton of cash if he gets pattersoned.

Posted by: Section3mysofa | March 3, 2011 1:07 PM | Report abuse

I agree a Lannan trade may work well for all concerned, but that doesn't coubt as getting cut.

Posted by: Section3mysofa | March 3, 2011 1:10 PM | Report abuse


Posted by: Section3mysofa | March 3, 2011 1:11 PM | Report abuse

I can't see anyone other then Gonzo or Morgan being outright released; anyone else it just makes too much sense to keep and trade them.

Posted by: SCNatsFan | March 3, 2011 1:11 PM | Report abuse

So is the question what surprise do you expect or what expectation will be a surprise? Hmmm...

I'll go with "option C", what possible release would surprise me?


Posted by: whatsaNATaU | March 3, 2011 1:13 PM | Report abuse

Obviously, I'm missing T. Ham's FTF, but in looking at the lineup, something bugs me. Well, that in combination with John Kelly's piece, today, on typos.

Posted by: mikecatcher50 | March 3, 2011 9:33 AM

You're gotta be, probably, the only person on the earth disappointed that "T. Ham" isn't doing her riveting chat everyday.

I don't think any players release from the Natinals will shock their dwindling fanbase. Funny that WaPo mentioned John Patterson. Lord knows how many posters and "fans" on here thought he was the next Cy Young. What's he up to nowadays?

Gotta love that yet another poster is gonna flatter me by using a quasi-similar name to mine. They say that imitation is the sincerest form of flattery.

Wonder how giddy Natinal fans will get today if their beloved AAAA-team beats the JV team of some real MLB team. They'll probably throw a parade and put together a round or 2 of soggy-biscuit.

Oh, and periculum, as far as CP goes, who cares. He hasn't consistently contributed to the Skins in years. So long CP, thanks for the memories.

Posted by: P00PY_MCP00P | March 3, 2011 1:14 PM | Report abuse

Jeez, Section3, what's with the strict rules enforcement, in spring training no less?

Okay, fine. Surprise cut: Ankiel. Bernadina and Morgan (with Hairston on the bench) make him unnecessary.

Posted by: baltova1 | March 3, 2011 1:17 PM | Report abuse

Most likely to get cut out of the blue, though I do not think it in itself likely: Nyjer.

Bernadina/Werth can play CF in some kind of rotation and Nyjer is relatively old and has not gotten it together when he had every opporuntity to do so last year. If they had any kind of semi-reliable lead-off replacement guy, Morgan might already be gone from this club.

Posted by: dfh21 | March 3, 2011 1:18 PM | Report abuse

Respectfully disagree, kev29. I think they can get similar productivity off the bench from guys like Ankiel (OF defense) and Hairston (baserunning). I think if Morgan goes, he goes completely.

Posted by: baltova1 | March 3, 2011 1:03 PM

Perhaps. But if Morgan doesn't get the everyday lead-off spot, then Rizzo and Riggleman might want him here to platoon with Bernadina. Otherwise the lead-off role will be squarely on Bernie with pressure on Espinosa or Desmond to slot in on certain days.

I have as many doubts about Morgan as all of you - but I know this, Rizzo WANTS Morgan to be the everyday CF/lead-off. It's the best scenario for the way this team is built. A proper lead-off man to get on 35% of the time, who can be a worry (for us too, unfortunately) on the base paths before Desi, Werth and Zimm hit. Then you can use Bernie and Morse in the 6 spot and take the pressure off Espy down the line-up.

That's the plan - but as Nats fans we sure know how plans change.

Posted by: Kev29 | March 3, 2011 1:18 PM | Report abuse

As the president of the N-Y-J-E-R- M-O-R-G-A-N FAN CLUB i take issue with anyone suggesting Nyjer will be released or cut he has a quality this team lack's...... speed. The Nats will release Lannan if Gorezalany pitch's the way Rizzo and Riggleman thinks he can, but i agree with Kev29 Nyjer goes nowhere because he can do more things than Harris did last year.

Posted by: dargregmag | March 3, 2011 1:19 PM | Report abuse

St. Louis would definitely not want Marquis back. Too many hard feelings from his last stint there.

I could see Dave Duncan drooling over Lannan. He would be a perfect ground pitcher reclamation project for Dunc.

My bet's on Nyjer for the surprising release.

Posted by: sidbluntley | March 3, 2011 1:20 PM | Report abuse

Morgan, Livo, and/or Flores/Ramos

Posted by: crimsonmac | March 3, 2011 1:24 PM | Report abuse

Well, the question is who is going to be RELEASED.

I think nobody. Even those who think Morgan shouldn't be the every day center fielder are saying he should be at least on the bench, or traded for a bag of balls, or something.

And Lannan is NOT going to be released unless his pitching arm quite literally falls off.

BTW, regarding Patterson - he was a hell of a pitcher for a couple of seasons (look at his '05 and '06 WHIP -, then started having arm problems in '07, went on the DL, and anyone with half of a working eye could see he wasn't going to make it back. So he wasn't exactly a shocker.

Posted by: gilbertbp | March 3, 2011 1:42 PM | Report abuse

Nyjer's not going anywhere--for the first few months anyway. Too good of a 2009 season, too weird of a 2010 season (17x caught stealing?, all those pickoffs, the fighting etc.) Too fast, too cheap.

Get Dr. Corrales to diagnose him--Nyjer looks like classic ADD.

The cuts will come from Ankiel, Lannan, Maya, Wang.

Bernie, Morse, and Werth share the corners. Ankiel and Nyjer compete for CF.

Result? Since Ankiel can only play CF with very good corners, and not for a whole season, he's below Nyjer.

But Nyjer is on a short rope. If he pees all over himself like last year, he's gone, but not until June.

Looks right now like we're starting the season without a solid CF, and that's that, unless another name shows up.

Posted by: OldDad | March 3, 2011 1:54 PM | Report abuse

And of course who can forget the 2009 release of Jim Bowden? (Okay, technically that wasn't a release, but it fits nevertheless). BEST MOVE EVER!

Posted by: twinbrook | March 3, 2011 1:59 PM | Report abuse

And of course who can forget the 2009 release of Jim Bowden? (Okay, technically that wasn't a release, but it fits nevertheless). BEST MOVE EVER!

Posted by: twinbrook | March 3, 2011 2:03 PM | Report abuse

Jim Bowden was a wart on this city's nose--his release was waaay too long in coming.

As for CF, how about this?

We collect up a few of these high-90s arms and add in maybe Flores and dangle them in front of the Yankees for Granderson.

I don't think they like him that much, batwise, and maybe Gardner can play CF for them.

As for Livo, he loves us, we love him, and I love the idea of a rotation with a slower, speed-changer for the middle of a three-game series.

Something about a bunch of guys throwing the same kinds of pitches for every game of a series doesn't sit right with me.

Anybody know if Scotty McGregor or Boddicker have kept in shape? How's Charlie Hough doing?

Posted by: OldDad | March 3, 2011 2:41 PM | Report abuse

My guess is Nyjer...too erratic, too old and VERY suspect defense for CF.
CF is normally a position with a plus defender. He isn't one.
Were he a significant offensive contributor(Josh Hamilton, Curtis Granderson, Shane Victorino)you could live with weak defense but he just isn't.
A top notch defensive CF also improves the pitching staff with their play. At this point in his career Nyjer isn't gonig to morph into one.
Spare part that is easily replaced.

Posted by: BigDaddy651 | March 3, 2011 3:21 PM | Report abuse

Got to be Nyjer Morgan. He offers the team nothing but some speed and a bad attitude. This improved clubhouse, talking about Werth here, won't tolerate this.

Posted by: dirtball | March 3, 2011 3:28 PM | Report abuse

That should be an easy one - Not-on-base Morgan. If Nowhere Morgan doesn't get cut Werth will kick the crap out of him anyway. Can't this team move on!!! I-Roid should be next. What a freekin' waste!!!

Posted by: Dog-1 | March 3, 2011 3:39 PM | Report abuse

Ivan Rodriguez is the surprise cut. Ramos and Flores come through in spring training, making Ivan cutable or tradeable.

Posted by: AsstGM | March 3, 2011 4:09 PM | Report abuse

They aren't going to release Lannan ... he may even still have options left, is only 26 (2 years younger than Mock) and a valuable commodity. He's a young inexpensive left-handed innings eater. There must certainly be a trade market for his services. For sorely needed young prospects for the farm system.

Posted by: periculum | March 3, 2011 4:57 PM | Report abuse

A note to dirtball; When exactly did Nyjer display a bad attitude? it's know-nothings like you who post on this blog and ain't got a clue!! I'm tired of the bad mouthing this guy get's from some of you, Nyjer this, Nyjer that, damn can we wait until spring training end's and let the chip's fall where they may.I know one thing if i'm Nyjer i ain't depending on some of you for moral support.

Posted by: dargregmag | March 3, 2011 5:11 PM | Report abuse

Right on, dargramps. Nyjer was the one who CARED last year, cared enough to FIGHT!!! Him and Werth should get along great.

Posted by: Nats_Lady | March 3, 2011 5:25 PM | Report abuse

Nats_Lady; Thank's, i don't get some of these so called fans.

Posted by: dargregmag | March 3, 2011 5:58 PM | Report abuse

I would love to have Morse/Ankiel in left Bernadina in Center and Werth in right.. Cut all ties with Morgan. His fielding is very suspect, and when it comes to hitting when he finally would get on base watching him get picked off or thrown out was extremely frustrating. This guy is not a Major League Baseball player. All he has is speed, he has no bat whatsoever. I want Bernadina to crush spring training and be in CF leading off by March 31st.

Posted by: bmmanion | March 3, 2011 6:04 PM | Report abuse

Unless Pants releases himself, this thread holds no interest for me.

Posted by: Brue | March 3, 2011 6:09 PM | Report abuse

A lot of people are forgetting (not knowing?) contract rules and status.

Marquis will get $7m from the Nats this year no matter what, they will not release him.

Lannan signed a $2.75m major league contract, that is guaranteed also so they will not release him.

Maya has a multi-year major league contract and has pitched all of one month in the US. They will not release him.

Wang's contract is only $1m, so it's not impossible that they cut him from a financial point of view. But he is a 2-time 19 game winner who is finally healthy. They will not release him.

By the way, for similar reasons the opening starting rotation will absolutely be Livo, Marquis, Lannan and Gorzelanny. Only an injury could change that. None of them have options, all have major league deals, all will start season on 25 man roster. Everyone else will break camp in the minors because they won't need a 5th starter for something like 2 weeks.

The good news is that there is no need for a surprise release this year. Everyone who has a shot at the roster is a legit major league candidate and if we did release them would get picked up by someone else.

Posted by: Avar | March 3, 2011 6:28 PM | Report abuse

You know Poopy is like those stinkbugs that have been in a lot peoples houses over the winter. They kind of hang out way off in a corner somewhere, and you never notice they're there until you step on one and there's that smell.....

Posted by: bromisky | March 3, 2011 7:40 PM | Report abuse

Avar, cogent as usual. As I did mention Wang, I'll just reiterate "if he gets off to a slow start," at which point Rizzo might conclude Wang is not, in fact, healthy, and give up. Not saying it *will* happen, just answering the question.

Posted by: Section3mysofa | March 3, 2011 7:58 PM | Report abuse

so watch where you step, bromo, and don't leave food out.
and NyJer will never be a 4th OF here...he starts or he's gone. The FO has said as much.

Posted by: Section3mysofa | March 3, 2011 8:02 PM | Report abuse

Sounds good but if one of these guys can't pitch, what do you do with him?

We know what these Post reporters are saying about the happenings in Viera, but they don't run the Nats.

They say he's getting better, but last season Maya was not a definitive MLB pitcher, which means he's not an MLB pitcher, until he is. Lannan had issues last year. Wang too, or else we wouldn't have gotten him. Same as Marquis.

I got as locks Livo, Zim, Gorzelanny and whatever of the mystery guys who aren't the same as they were last year.

Posted by: OldDad | March 3, 2011 8:31 PM | Report abuse

Wow you people call yourself fans,YIKES!,if you are fans what must the Phillies people be saying about us,probably not half as bad.Most of you people are a disgrace,you are not fans,you are nothing but critics,you sit at your computers,jump on the bandwagon of the week & pretend to be EXPERTS on said players,what a JOKE.The only way you get away with this nonsense is through the anonymity of the internet.If any of you fools had to actually own up to your opinions,argue them with your OWN facts you would be helplessly childlike & beyond embarrassed.Nat_Lady & dargegmag at least try to bring some sense to this ridiculous Morgan hating bandwagon.It is so sad & stupid it is beyond absurd.Oh no of course YOU know more than Rizzo & crew,you are anonymous internet critics,of course you are a better baseball person than seasoned pros that spent their entire lives doing this,why would anyone be so foolish to question your intelligence & credentials,oops I remember because you are anonymous internet critics,you have no knowledge just bandwagon opinions.Last year this team according to you wouldn't win even 10 games,then they came out fighting & you went silent,soon enough injuries,youth,and more youth came to fruition & quickly you were back telling all of us how smart you were,how horrible OUR team was,problem is by then they had already outdone your earlier prognostications,but that somehow evaded your memories & you were yet again brilliant professional baseball men telling us how bad OUR team was.What our team is,is young,what our REAL baseball people are doing is building a TEAM,FARM system & longevity.What this will result in will be you fools first jumping off when they win,jumping back when they lose to tell us how smart you are then eventually disappearing when they really start to win,in the next couple of years.All of a sudden you will reappear to tell us how you told us all along that in time this team would be really good.Bull Hockey--you are not fans,you are pitiful little people that can only criticize or take credit for other peoples parroted ideas.We all know who you are,& most of the time we could care less,but some of us at least once a year have to call your sorry butts out to tell it like it is.So remember YOU ARE NOT FANS,YOU ARE CRITICS,sorry little people that can only criticize others PERIOD.Now crawl back into your mommies basement,finish eating HER ice cream that SHE paid for & continue your insidious BS,it give us a big old laugh,just like last year,just like this year coming,then the year after & so on.Soon--much sooner than you critics will like this team will be very competitive,start to win,win often-then all of a sudden they will be in the play-offs,& lo and behold you will jump onto the new bandwagon,the NATS bandwagon-but by then it will be too late.Get lost,get a life-GO NATS--TRUE FANS love you,we know what it takes to build a winner,keep it up Rizzo & crew,soon very,very soon NATS will RULE-& you idiots will like it!

Posted by: mfowler1 | March 3, 2011 10:56 PM | Report abuse


Posted by: Section3mysofa | March 3, 2011 11:17 PM | Report abuse

I love people who think they own the definition of a "fan". New concept - "enter key", try it out.

Posted by: Avar | March 4, 2011 6:16 AM | Report abuse

I think the answer very obviously is Morgan.Mike Morse has become too valuable.Bernadina could be an every day lf/cf and hit .275-290/20-25hr/80-90 rbi/25 sb per year you don't let those guys go plus he's only 27.I'd say Morgan is on a short leash but I don't seeing him being cut in the spring.More like demoted/traded/released after a few months.Unfortunately,until then he's taking away important playing/development time that Bernie and Morse both need.

Posted by: ydor | March 4, 2011 6:46 AM | Report abuse

To Twinbrook way up the thread: Marquis isn't going anywhere yet, they've got too much invested in him and will be looking to get something back on that investment, on the mound first, and then perhaps at the trade deadline. He also has a track record of starting a season VERY well before fading in the second half, last season doesn't count because he was already pitching injured when the season started. The year before he came to the Nats he was the first pitcher in the Majors to get to 11 wins and went to the All Star Game. He also looked "exceptional" (quoting Riggleman) yesterday in his first outing this Spring. It's no stretch to say he has a good chance of being the Nats best pitcher for the first half of 2011.

Morgan, on the other hand, has underperformed (even for him) so far. Yes, it's early, but Rizzo puts great weight on character and team chemistry, which could mean that Morgan doesn't have much slack to work with. I wouldn't miss him.

Posted by: dabagley | March 5, 2011 9:55 AM | Report abuse

Pudge, Livo, and Morgan will be released. Jesus will be traded to Yanks/Astros or one other team who has lost a catcher for most of the season.

Posted by: crimsonmac | March 5, 2011 11:17 AM | Report abuse

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