Friday, March 30, 2012

Wait, Xavier Nady?

I looked away for 7 seconds and Xavier Nady became the opening day left fielder. Yes due to injuries and injury concerns, it looks as if Xavier Nady might not only make the team but start opening day. While he is a serviceable 5th outfielder (maybe), he certainly should not be starting for the Nationals opening day. Just because he is filling in for Michael Morse, doesn't necessarily mean the Nats should be using a "lite" version in Nady (I wouldn't even call it "lite", Nady has reached Crystal Pepsi levels)

In his last 500+ at bats, spanning 2 season, Nady has racked up -14 oRAR (offensive runs above replacement player). Compare that with Roger Bernadina's 6 oRAR in over 700+ ABs the last 2 seasons and you wonder why you would sacrifice those 20 runs and a considerable amount of athleticism for Nady. The same goes with Rick Ankiel, a superb defender with an oRAR of 4 last year and a WAR over 2. With so many options this spring, why, in the last week have the Nats pivoted so hard to Nady?

What is really scary about the ball rolling down the hill so fast on Nady, is that it signals, to me, that Morse and possibly LaRoche and Ankiel are still not healthy and could miss opening day. And as Nats fans know, missing the first week can turn into the first month and then the first half very quickly. This team was paltry on offense last season, and replacing Michael Morse with Xavier Nady is not the solution.

Thursday, March 29, 2012

Rule V Update

Every year at the Winter Meetings there is a second draft among baseball's 30 ball-clubs, and, as opposed to the Rule IV Draft that takes place every June, this draft deals specifically with players who already have a parent organization, not amateurs. Usually, the Nats have been more than willing to take a chance on players, despite the caveat that you must keep the player on the Major League roster all season long or you have to offer the player back to his original team. Sometimes this works out pretty well and you are able to find a diamond in the rough (Jesus Flores) and sometimes you get a dud (Brian Broderick, Elvin Ramirez, Jamie Hoffmann, Terrell Young, Matthew Whitney, Levale Speigner, and Garrett Guzman).

This year, as a sign of huge growth for the Franchise, Rizzo and Co. decided not to take anyone in the Rule V (pronounced five, not "V") for the first time since 2005. However, the organization lost two players to other clubs; Erik Komatsu to the Cardinals and Brad Meyers to the Yankees. Let's take a look at their chances to make their respective clubs.

Erik Komatsu - 24 Years-old - Outfielder - Cardinals
- Came over from the Brewers in the Jerry Hairston trade last year.
- 2012 Spring Stats: .289/.340/.422. 2 2B. 2 3B. 8 RBI. 4 BB. 5 K. 5 SB.
- Chances of making the club? Strong. He is going against Shane Robinson, a 27 year-old outfielder, and Komatsu has the upper hand due to the money investment (50k) made by the ballclub. It looks like he will break camp as the Cardinals 5th Outfielder; behind Matt Holiday, John Jay, Carlos Beltran, and Playoff Hero Allen Craig.

Brad Meyers - 26 Years-old - RHP - Yankees
- Drafted by the Nationals in the 5th round of the 2007 MLB First Year Player Draft.
- 2012 Spring Stats: N/A.
- Brad Meyers hasn't appeared in any games this spring due to a Shoulder injury suffered while lifting weights this offseason.
- Expect Brad Meyers to start the season on the DL. The Yankees would be allowed to keep him on the DL for the time being.

I think both of these players have a chance to stick with their big clubs for an extended period of time, health depending. What do you think??

Wednesday, March 28, 2012

Viera Superlatives

Technically, when you read this post, the 2012 MLB Regular Season will have begun as the A's and Mariners are opening the year at 6am ET in Tokyo. Naturally, ESPN is showing their 3rd or 4th SportsCenter in a row and MLBN decided to show the game on Tape Delay. Don't they know that we are all ready for game action, and that we will get up early to watch the game or listen to it on the radio while at work???

Anyway, in my mind, Spring Training is over. The Nationals battles are all but decided with only a handful of players still in limbo (Michaels/Carroll, Stammen/Gorzelanny). I feel that it is time to give out some Awards on a varitey of baseball topics - some random and some legit. Enjoy.

MVP (Position Player) - Ryan Zimmerman. He has hit .424, gotten on base at a .500 clip, and he is slugging .788. That's just not ok. Those are MLB '12 The Show numbers right there.

MVP (Pitcher) - Henry Rodriguez. His control issues have shown to be a thing of the past as he has only walked 2 in 8 innings of work. Opponents are hitting a paltry .125 against him.

Truck Dealership Award - Jayson Werth. The dude hit his truck with a homer and "left a crater". How awesome is that.

Coolest Name Award - Austin Bibens-Dirkx. He has an "X" in his last name instead of an "S".

Best Newcomer Award - Eury Perez. He has never played above High-A yet he was still able to hit .333 in limited action while providing stellar CF defense.

"Staph" Award - Corey Brown. Brown had a 2011 September call-up to forget, getting a Staph Infection after just 3 ABs. He came into Spring showing the Nats Brass that he meant business, going 7 for 22 before being demoted (way too early) to AAA Syracuse.

Free Pass (Hitter) - Mark DeRosa. Talk about patience, DeRosa has 10 walks to just 1 strikeout so far - those 10 walks are 4 more than anyone else on the roster.

Free Pass (Pitcher) - Gio Gonzalez. He leads the Nationals pitching staff with 9 walks in just 15 innings of work. McCatty needs to settle him down just a bit more.

Worst Lineup - March 10 vs. The Tigers. The lineup for this road game went as such: Bernadina - 7. Lombardozzi - 4. Espinosa - 6. Tracy - 3. Flores - DH. Teahen - 5. Brown - 9. Solano - 2. Perez - 8.

Best Box Line (Hitter) - Roger Bernadina. Just three days ago (3/25)Roger Bernadina registered this gem of a line: 3 for 3. 1 HR. 1 R. 4 RBI. BB. Stellar.

Best Box Line (Pitcher) - Stephen Strasburg. On the same day that Bernadina was putting up the Best Box Line, Strasburg matched with his own top flight performance with this line: 5 IP. 5 H. 0 R. 1 BB. 5 K.

Worst Box Line (Pitcher) - Tom Gorzelanny. On Sunday March 4th, Tom Gorzelanny gave up 7 runs in just 1 inning of work. He gave up just 3 hits, so most of the damage came from his 4 walks. Ouch.

Worst Box Line (Hitter) - Bryce Harper. The day he got demoted (3/18) Bryce Harper put up the worst box line of the Spring - saved only by a late double. He went 1 for 5 with that double while registering a Golden Sombrero (4 strikeouts) in ugly fashion.

Ian "E6" Desmond Award - Ian Desmond. Shockingly, Desi leads the team with 4 errors so far in Grapefruit league action, garnering this prestigious award.

LVP (Hitter) - Andres Blanco. Simply put, when you have as many hits in 32 At-Bats (2) as Stephen Strasburg (a pitcher, mind you) does in 4 At-Bats (2) you get this award.

LVP (Pitcher) - Tom Gorzelanny. If you listened to the latest edition of Nats Talk On The Go, you heard a few Gorze stats. I shall repeat them. Everyone on the team has a better WHIP and ERA than Gorzelanny. EVERYONE. That includes Yunesky Maya. Yet, he will go north with the big club. *Shakes head*

LVP (General) - Training Staff. Another piss-poor appearance by the Nationals training staff. So far there have been way too many injuries that have been misdiagnosed as minor; LaRoche, Morse, and Solis. Several more nagging injuries that should have been prevented; Ankiel, Harper, Storen, Burnett.

Viera Panera Award (Best Sportswriting) - Tom Boswell. If you know me, I am not a huge Boswell fan, but his "investigation" on Jayson Werth's truck smashing bomb was just pure fun. I loved it.

Those are just a few of my awards, what are yours???

Tuesday, March 27, 2012

Nats Talk On The Go: Episode 13

In this week's episode, The Nats Blog's Joe Drugan and Capitol Baseball's Craig MacHenry talk about John Lannan's rotation spot and players getting hurt a lot. We also talk about the state of the bullpen, and Joe put out a lineup that he wasn't entirely prepared for and is now embarrassed about in the return of the Question Of The Week.

Subscribe to and rate our podcast on iTunes, right-click to download if you don't use iTunes, or stream it below.

Friday, March 23, 2012

Bryce Harper, Steven Lombardozzi, and Value

This week Mike Rizzo and Davey Johnson have made some headlines in regards to several young players and the future of the Nationals outfield. Bryce Harper, optioned to Triple-A Syracuse, is now slated to be their center fielder for the near future. Steven Lombardozzi, a promising middle infield prospect, will learn to play the outfield. While both moves are need based (The Nats lacking a long term CF option, Michael Morse ailing, Ryan Zimmerman, etc.) both moves also signal a shift in the player development strategy of the Nationals that I believe will improve the team this year and for many years to come.

When Syracuse takes the field for the first game of the season, Bryce Harper will be roaming centerfield and anchoring their line-up. The reason for starting Bryce in center is two-fold. Currently having only Eury Perez as an upper level prospect at the position, Mike Rizzo wants to try to make Bryce Harper the long term answer; the underlying reason is that Bryce Harper as the Nats long term centerfielder creates value for both the player and the ballclub. Positions like CF, SS, 2B are premium positions because they are difficult defensively and on most teams offense is sacrificed at at least 1, more often than not 2, of those positions. If Bryce fails to be a suitable CF option, then he is moved to a corner OF spot and is still an offensive force. If he succeeds, he locks up CF, a premium position, for 5-7 years while making prospects Perez, Brian Goodwin, Michael Taylor, and Destin Hood trade bait or fantastic back-up pieces.

Davey Johnson, when speaking about Lombardozzi getting some experience in the outfield, referenced Ben Zobrist. Rays fans and fantasy gurus alike will tell you all you need to know about this super-utility man; he can play anywhere on the field and fit anywhere on a line-up card. In 2009 he played 8 different positions if you include DH, hit nearly .300, and made all of his teammates better through regular off days. Can Lombardozzi be Ben Zobrist? That's not the question that Mike Rizzo and Davey Johnson should be asking (and to their credit they likely won't). The question is can the Nats afford to gamble on this possibility?

And that answer is a resounding yes. Over the past five years Evan Longoria has been the most talented Rays player, but it is very easy to argue that Ben Zobrist is Tampa's MVP. Again, the worst that happens is that Lombo can't play outfield and he returns to the infield, where he provides the club with stellar defense.

What these moves, along with the decision to play Anthony Rendon at SS and 2nd in addition to 3rd, signal is that the Nats have shifted their player development philosophy. By starting a player at a premium position and moving him should he fail, the Nats can create value. Simply put, offense is easy to find at corner OF spots and first base. But by developing players up the middle, having them learn the premium positions, you create more skill, more value, and a more talented organization.

Thursday, March 22, 2012

Quilted Quicker Picker Upper

Please forgive the title.

Yesterday the NFL made headlines (what else is new...) when their looney Commissioner, Roger Goodell, decided to unleash punish the city of New Orleans with a fury not seen since Hurricane Katrina. The team lost their next two first round picks, $500 G's, and their head coach was suspended (without pay) for the entire season in response to a bounty-system that saw Saints players get rewarded monetarily for injuring other players. In addition to cementing their reputation as the No Fun League, the NFL decided to make an example of the Saints for something that I guarantee every single team in the league does.

Enough NFL talk, I think I'm gonna be sick...

This is a pretty easy topic to relate back to other sports, especially with the MLB and the NHL. Anyone that follows the NHL would have seen that the Rangers and Devils made headlines (not really, the NFL had them all - PEYTON MANNING!!!) when they started off their game with a three simultaneous fights, starting a debate on the merits of "staged fighting" or planned fights - one could argue that this was a planned attempt to "injure" an opponent.

Being a baseball blog, let's bring it back home a bit - shall we?

In baseball there are plenty of ways to get around the rules in an attempt to injure a player - some of them even occurring multiple times a game.

Example 1: Runner on first, less than 2 outs. The batter hits a sharp ground ball to the Second Baseman who flips it to the Shortstop. What does the runner do? He tries to take out the Shortstop - opening up the opportunity for him to land on his head, twist his knee, or get a pair of cleats where the sun don't shine. It's legal and encouraged by coaches, regardless of the outcome.

Example 2: Runner on third, less than 2 outs. The batter hits a shallow fly ball to the outfield and the runner tags from third base. The Catcher tries to block the plate but gets bowled over (Read: Buster Posey). Yes, the runner is just trying to score and he will stop at nothing to achieve his goal of scoring that run. Everyone in baseball outside of San Francisco had no problem with Scott Cousins destroying Buster Posey (and his knee). Cousins was definitely trying to hurt Posey enough to have the ball get jarred loose, does that count as intent to injure?

Example 3: The most classic example of all. Beanball. It is a tradition as old as baseball itself. You hit my guy, I hit yours. 99% of the time this is done with a breaking ball or easy fastball right between the numbers, but sometimes a pitcher gets a little wild and goes head hunting (Nolan Ryan did it once or fifteen times). Sometimes, after warnings from the umpire, the beanball will continue and both the pitcher and manager will be suspended for a game - regardless of whether the pitcher/manager admits that the pitches were intentional.

Example 3 is the closest example of "intentionally attempting to injure" others as Sean Payton is accused of, but still is a far cry from any baseball examples. The fact of the matter is that all those plays in question can result in injuries, but we have never seen an example of a player intentionally attempting to injure someone as you probably see on every single NFL team at some point.

All this really proves is that we have now found the 638th reason that the MLB is classier than the NFL - MLB players respect each other.

Wednesday, March 21, 2012

Big Parra Style

On this week's edition of Nats Talk on the Go, Joe and I discussed (once again) the need for the Nationals to fill the gaping void in Center Field. Since recording the casted pod on Monday night, there have been some interesting developments in the Nationals search for a Center Fielder.

First, yesterday afternoon several major trade-breakers said that the 59-103 Astros had completely a trade to ship out backup catcher Humberto Quintero and Outfielder Jason Bourgeois - but no one knew their destination. Speculation among the "Natosphere" exploded, had the Nationals just traded Jesus Flores? Had Rizzo just acquired a mediocre, low-OBP Center Fielder? WHAT HAPPENED!!! Well, the excitement quickly settled down as it was soon reported that the deal was with the Royals, not the Curly W's.

Crisis averted; because, really, would you want a 30 year-old Center Fielder with only 401 career ABs and a .307 OBP?

The more interesting story also started yesterday, as Danny Knobler of CBS Sports tweeted that The Nationals had two scouts watching D'Backs Gold Glover Gerardo Parra, with another 4 scouts there today. Interesting...

Parra is an interesting player that would be a fantastic fit in the Nationals lineup. He would slot easily into the lead-off spot (.357 OBP in 2011), as well as Center Field. In 2011, Parra had what many would call a breakout year, notching career highs in Average, On-Base, and Slugging. In a crazy turn of events, Parra enters the year as the Diamondbacks 4th outfielder, their Roger Bernadina if you will, after the D'Backs signed Jason Kubel to a 3-year, $22.5 Million Dollar deal this offseason.

That being said, Parra will not come cheap. He is still young (24) and under club control for the next 4 years (meaning he costs the team very little money) - they have absolutely no reason to trade him. It would take a solid package for the Nats to acquire his services - I think it would take Lannan, a top 20 prospect (read, Eury Perez or Michael Taylor), and maybe Flores as well.

Would you make that trade?? Yell at me in the comments. BONUS POINTS FOR ALL CAPS!!!

Tuesday, March 20, 2012

Nats Talk On The Go: Episode 12

In this week's episode, The Nats Blog's Joe Drugan and Capitol Baseball's Craig MacHenry talk about Washington Nationals spring training.

We talk about:

  • Bryce Harper's Move to Center Field

  • More Injuries

  • John Lannan's Struggles

  • More Roster Cuts

... and a few other topics. We hope you'll enjoy the show.

Subscribe to and rate our podcast on iTunes or stream it (right-click to download) if you don't use iTunes.

Tuesday, March 13, 2012

Leadoff Plan B

Ian Desmond will be the Nats shortstop for 2012. He will begin the year as the lead-off man, whether or not he stays there for 2012 is very much up in the air. So far this spring he is just 3 for 20 and 0 walks. Zero. His OBP is a paltry .150 with 7 Ks in 20 ABs. These are not the numbers you want to see out of your lead-off man, even if it is spring training. So maybe its time we talk about possible plan Bs. Here are several possible scenarios for names you might see at the top of the line-up card should Desmond have a less than stellar April and May.

Danny Espinosa: Last year he got on-base at a .323 clip, not ideal. But he is speedy, a switch hitter, and perhaps with a lead-off hitters approach and mindset he could train himself to walk more and see more pitches he could see both his OBP and SLG %s rise. I believe he would be the first plan B should Desi fail in the 1 hole.

Jayson Werth: He was signed by the Nats to be a run-producer in the middle of the line-up. But perhaps he will end up having more value as a guy with a lifetime .360 OBP. He is athletic and smart and could adapt to the strategies of the lead-off spot. With Zim, Morse and eventually Bryce, he may not be counted on as much to drive in runs, freeing him up to lead-off.

Rick Ankiel: If we get this far down the Plan B hierarchy...we are in trouble. But I believe in a man named Rick Ankiel. He is an athlete, he knows how pitchers think and can jump start an inning with an extra-base hit. He hit for a .340 OBP back in 2008 and is capable of stealing bases. He strikes out too much, but again, this would definely be a stop-gap solution.

Unnamed Player Traded For: Rizzo wants that long term solution for CF and the lead-off spot. The MLB Trade Rumor heat has died down somewhat on Nats trading for a CF, but that's when it seems Rizzo strikes. It would not shock me in the least if at some point before April 5 Mike swings a deal for a young outfielder with high OBP potential.

On a roster with plenty of talent, the lead-off spot has to worry Davey Johnson and Mike Rizzo. If Ian Desmond proves incapable of holding down the lead-off spot, the cupboard is pretty bare when it comes to OBP and speed. So Nats fans, hold your breath for Ian Desmond and cross your fingers for Mike Rizzo and the CF trade market.

Nats Talk On The Go: Episode 11

In this week's episode, The Nats Blog's Joe Drugan and Capitol Baseball's Craig MacHenry continue to talk about Washington Nationals spring training.

We hit on:
  • Round One of Spring Roster Cuts
  • The Injury Bug in Camp
  • Ryan Zimmerman's Hot Bat
  • Gio Gonzalez's great spring
  • Brad Lidge's Bold Quote
  • More Craig Stammen
... and much more. We hope you'll enjoy the show.

Subscribe to and rate our podcast on iTunes or stream it (right-click to download) if you don't use iTunes.

Monday, March 12, 2012

Rotation Roundabout

In past incarnations of Nationals Spring Trainings, the fans have been treated to cattle call after cattle call to try and fill out a somewhat competent rotation with which to start the season. This year, thankfully, things are very different down in Viera. Come pitchers and catchers there were 4 spots seemingly set in stone (Strasburg, Gonzalez, Zimmermann, and Jackson). Gone are the days of 12 pitchers for 3 or 4 spots - and welcome to the days of 3 pitchers pitching for just 1 spot.

I'll go out on a limb now - the Nats pitching rotation is set. Come April 6 in ChiTown it will be Strassy, NatGio, JZim, EJax, and Wang. Mark it down. My gut tells me that Rizzo will be trading Lannan for pennies on the dollar, while Ross Detwiler bides his time as the Left Handed Long Relief man in the bullpen.

That being said, how is the Nats rotation shaping up through Spring starts 1 and 2?

Strasburg - 5.2 IP. 6 H. 4 R. 4 ER. 1 BB. 5 K. 6.35 ERA. 1.24 WHIP.
- Don't worry too much about this line considering there was a 2-run triple that was ruled legit, then error, then back to being a triple. Take that out of the equation and it comes out to a 3.46 ERA.

Gonzalez - 7 IP. 3 H. 0 R. 0 ER. 1 BB. 4 K. 0.00 ERA. 0.43 WHIP.
- Gio has been more than advertised so far. Granted, this is a time where the pitchers are "ahead" of the hitters, but he is carving up stellar rosters at a maddening pace.

Zimmermann - 3 IP. 0 R. 0 ER. 1 BB. 3 K. 0.00 ERA. 1.33 WHIP.
- Zimmermann will hopefully have a bit more run support this year, because it looks like he is about to be unleashed upon the NL East. Beware East Coast...

Jackson - 6.0 IP. 0 R. 0 ER. 2 BB. 3 K. 0.00 ERA. 0.83 WHIP.
- EJax has been hampered by control issues in the past, but McCatty thinks that he will be able to fix whatever has been ailing the still-young starter. So far this Spring, Jackson has shown that he is worth the $10 Million he is making this year.

Wang - 2 IP. 2 R. 2 ER. 1 BB. 2 K. 9.00 ERA. 2.00 WHIP.
- This tally doesn't take into account the intra-squad game that Wang pitched before this start, so he has had a bit more mound time than these stats shows. Sinkerballers tend to pitch better as they get tired and hopefully the Wang will tire out soon... Too much innuendo?? Anyway, Wang is due $4 Million this year so he will be the Nats 5th starter until he pitches himself out of the spot.

There are those out there that believe that Lannan and Detwiler are still being given a chance, they aren't - trust me. Your starters will start Spring games, not come in in relief like Detwiler has in both of his appearances and I have already stated that I think that Lannan will be traded.

What do you think, CapBallers? Is this your ideal rotation? Does Lannan or Detwiler squeeze out Wang? Are you getting tired of my Wang jokes? Sound off in the comments!

Friday, March 9, 2012


That sound you just heard was the sound of a truck backing up - hence this article will focus on back-ups!

Judging by the projected lineups out there compared with the spots left for bench players, I figure that there is only room for about 5 bench players, one of which will be a backup catcher. Let's look at my predictions based on the early Spring Training results.

Catcher - Jesus Flores
This one is pretty much a given. At one point Jesus Flores was looked at by the organization as the future catcher, but that was before a foul ball broke his shoulder. Now he is trying to build on a solid Venezuelan Winter League performance by putting up solid numbers as a backup in hopes to get traded to a place he can be a starter - he first has to prove his health.

Util - Mark DeRosa
Mark DeRosa is only three years removed from a 4.3 WAR in 2008. Remember that. He has been dogged the past few years by a wrist injury that has sapped his power. However, based on his early spring results (once again, EARLY), DeRosa is 4 for 6 with a HR, his first in a very long time. If he can regain his power stroke (23 HR in 2009), he will be a versatile option at several infield and outfield positions.

Middle-Infield - Stephen Lombardozzi
Lombardozzi is one of the only available players in Spring Training that has the ability to play the middle infield - DeRosa just doesn't have the range. Though he is a young gun, Davey Johnson likes him and has said that he will get the playing time he needs to continue his development. I don't necessarily agree with Lombo making the Opening Day roster, but I think it will happen.

OF - Roger Bernadina
We have seen good Bernie and bad Bernie. But in all honesty, the reason that Roger Bernadina will make the team solely on the fact that he is Left Handed. And starting the 2012 Season, the Nationals only have 2 left handed bats on the roster (LaRoche and Ankiel). Another thing that will set him apart from the other back-up options is his speed. When composing a bench it's wise to have someone in there that has some serious wheels and if Bernie can put some brains behind his wheels he should be able to elevate his game to the next level.

OF - Jason Michaels
He is simply going to bridge the gap to Harper. As opposed to Brett Carroll, Michaels has a few more years under his belt and should provide a bit more leadership to the Nationals young core. His .500 batting average so far in Spring Training sure doesn't hurt his case either.

So, there you have it. My (not-so) expert guesses as to which five players will compose the Opening Day bench.

What are your thoughts? Like my list? Hate it?! COMMENT AWAY!

Wednesday, March 7, 2012

Early Spring Thoughts

We are now three games into the 2012 Grapefruit League and the Nats are now 1-2 after losses to the Astros and a win over the Mets. It's still way too early to put any judgements out there that have any chance of standing up to a full season, but we are going to do it anyway.

- Ian Desmond sure is struggling - has yet to get a hit in 9 ABs and has recorded 3 E6's in extremely limited time.

- Man, does Bryce Harper hustle or what? He is an extraordinary player to watch, and we haven't even seen his power yet.

- Jhonatan Solano, a 26 year-old catcher in the Nats system, sure has a hell of an arm.

- Mark DeRosa has shown somewhat of a resurgance (once again, only Spring Training) and it could benefit the Nats greatly. He has hit the ball hard and hit his first Home Run at any level in about a year. o

- Tom Gorzelanny is terrible. He currently holds a 63.00 ERA after his 1 inning of work - that's 7 runs allowed to go along with 2 homers and 4 walks. He could very well pitch himself out of a job, as Sean wrote on Monday.

- Jesus Flores has looked a bit shaky behind the plate, allowing 4 steals while catching none of them, but his offense looks to be in mid-season form with two doubles in his four at-bats.

- Eury Perez is fast.

- Jason Michaels and Roger Bernadina are in a battle to make the team as a 4th or 5th outfielder - both are 3 for 5. Keep an eye on this battle for the next few weeks.

- Rick Ankiel has been working on his opposite field stroke and it showed in his opposite field bomb against the Mets on Monday night.

- Zach Walters wearing #11 is weird.

- I don't like hearing "lat strain" when referring to Michael Morse. Especially with the Nats training staff...

- Are we going to see LaRoche anytime soon?

- I'm happy to see Rendon get his first (of many) hit in a Curly W - now that the monkey is off his back he should start to rake.

What are your thoughts after the first few Spring Training games? Are you ready to see some cuts? Who has surprised you?

Monday, March 5, 2012

The Spring Home Opener

Yesterday, I, designated as the Capitol Baseball Florida Correspondent, made the two and a half hour drive down to sunny Viera for the first home game of the Nats 2012 Spring Training. I was promptly rewarded with some very ugly baseball. A 10-2 loss that showcased some serious rust on the part of Nats hitters, fielders, and pitchers. Here is a rundown of my observations from yesterday's game - bullet-point style:

-Stephen Strasburg was not sharp. His velocity was 92-96 (saw it on the scouts gun myself) with his curve in the mid-70s. He threw far too many first pitch balls, and balls in general. Strasburg's hallmark, along with ridiculous stuff, has been an ability to control the zone and throw first pitch strikes. He fell behind in too many counts and it hurt him on the Snyder air strike...err home run. First start, stuff was there, he will shake off the rust and be fine.

-Tom Gorzelanny may play himself out of a job with more performances like that. He got three outs (though technically one was a sacrifice bunt) walked 4, gave up 3 hits, had a wild pitch, all adding up to 7 runs. His stuff was eminently hittable and that needs to change if he wants a job.

-Mattheus, Lidge, Clip and Storen were all good. Mattheus had a tough time getting out of Gorzelanny's mess, but in his own inning he was lights out. Lidge showed no rust, neither did Storen. Clippard was having trouble getting over his fastball and the speed difference with his change-up was not as wide as it needs to be for him to be successful.

-Many of the Space Coast faithful were happy to see Jeff Fulchino in camp. He is a Titusville native (right up 95 from Viera) and is in his first year with the Nats organization. He spend the previous two years with the Astros. He is a big righty who throws with very little effort. Threw strikes and got outs. Which, after Gorzelanny's performance, was a refreshing change of pace.

-The Nats hitters looked very rusty. Jayson Werth got more than his fair share of meatballs and fouled them off. Ian Desmond looked lost at the plate and in the field - contributing two errors. Of the starters only Zimmerman and DeRosa made meaningful contact.

-Wilson Ramos showed nothing to indicate there will be any lasting effects from his ordeal. He was eager to throw to bases and looked very into the game.

-The kids looked great. Bryce showed a tremendous amount of hustle, beating out an infield single, busting his butt to second base to try to break up a double play (that ended up being in vain because I'm fairly certain the zombie versions of Tinkers, Evers, and Chance could double up Carlos Maldonado). He later fully laid out (again in vain) in an attempt to catch a fly ball down the right field line. This all happened after the Nats were down 9-1. This kid loves to play ball. Oh and bonus points for playing with stirrups.

-Anthony Rendon looked decent at shortstop, he is a work in progress. The glove and the arm are there, but the brain-foot communication needs improvement. Third base is very reactive, shortstop you have some time to think about the situation and mess things up.

-Jason Michaels looked like a valuable player. Brett Carroll played like Jayson Werth sans the bank account. The upper hand has been established in the race to be 25 and Michaels is the Mitt Romney to Carol's Rick Santorum after Game #2.

-Space Coast Stadium is a beautiful venue and I know the train is headed for a Nats relocation, but count me among those that hope they stay.

Well that's the view from the stands for the home opener, see something different on TV? See something different in-person? Why didn't you say hi!? Leave some comments!

Thursday, March 1, 2012

Prospect Watch

As we ramp up to Opening Day we are seeing more and more prospects lists hit the interwebs. The latest to be released is from Baseball America, one of the first publications to focus their efforts on the lower-levels of professional baseball. Aside from other prospects lists, this one is done as a group effort amongst 8 of the BA writers where each writer complies a list of their 150 top prospects before they all get averaged into one group list.

I'll go through the Nats prospects on the list, but that's not what inspired me to write about this list. One of the writers for Baseball America, Jim Callis had the brilliant idea to release the list of all the names that appeared on at least 1 of the Top 150 lists including their peak position. It shows who is on the radar but just missed the cut.

Let's check out all the Nats that were represented.

#1 - Bryce Harper - OF - MLB ETA: 2012

#19 - Anthony Rendon - 3B - MLB ETA: 2013

That's it... But remember, Baseball America rated the Nationals as their #1 system is all of baseball prior to the Gio Gonzalez deal. Let's see where those pieces landed...

#36 - Brad Peacock
#57 - A.J. Cole

That would've been 4 top 60 prospects for the Nationals, including the #1 overall prospect.

Now, we get the to fun part. Let's check out the members of the Nats system that just missed the cut..

Alex Meyer - Named on 7 Ballots - Top Position: #77
Brian Goodwin - Named on all 8 Ballots - Top Position: #80
Sammy Solis - Named on 7 Ballots - Top Position: #88
Matt Purke - Named on 6 Ballots - Top Position: #91
Stephen Lombardozzi - Named on 2 Ballots - Top Position: #113

Alex Meyer is singled out on this list as the #1 player that "could make big moves on the 2013 list" - they say "With a fastball that touches 100 mph and a wicked slider, Meyer had one of the most electric arms in the 2011 draft. If he continues to progress as he did last spring as a Kentucky junior, he'll rush through the minors."

Those now with the A's...

Derek Norris - Named on 5 Ballots - Top Position: #101

So, the Nationals system has taken a huge hit in losing Peacock, Norris, Cole, and Milone to the Athletics but there are several players lurking just outside of the Top 100 with only Solis (Tommy John Surgery) and Lombardozzi (Eligibility) poised to not be on next year's list.

Despite losing several top prospects in a trade, the Nationals system is set to remain among the top farm systems in baseball due to the strength of their 2011 draft class. It should be fun to follow both the MLB and MiLB Nats this coming year!