Thursday, January 20, 2011

Spring Training Battles

The past several weeks have been very eventful in NatsTown. So far this Hot Stove season has seen the Nats find a first-baseman (via last man standing WWE-style), add several valuable bullpen arms, and stock our bench with several legitimate veterans. What this means for the 2011 club is simple, the most eventful portion of the season for this team might just be Spring Training. With that in mind, I want to take a quick look at our 40-man roster, and who might be settling in on the 25-man roster once the regular season begins.

Traditionally the 25-man roster is situated as such. 12 Pitchers (5 starters, 7 relievers). 2 Catchers. 1 each for the 7 remaining positions. 4 Bench Players (2 OF and 2 IF/Utility).

Here is a breakdown of what the Nats currently have (including Spring Training Invites), compared to what they will need to cut down come March 31st. And as a special treat, without looking at any statistics I am going to denote my guesses with a *.

Catchers (2 total):
Ivan Rodriguez*
Wilson Ramos*
Jesus Flores

Infielders (6 total):
Adam LaRoche*
Danny Espinosa*
Ian Desmond*
Ryan Zimmerman*
Alex Cora
Jerry Hairston Jr.*
Alberto Gonzalez*
Brian Bixler
Michael Aubrey
Chris Marrero

Outfield (5 total):
Jayson Werth*
Nyjer Morgan*
Roger Bernadina*
Rick Ankiel*
Michael Morse*
Corey Brown
Matt Stairs
Justin Maxwell
Jeff Frazier
Jonathan Van Every
Bryce Harper

One of the great details about our current roster design is that several of these players I have *'ed have the ability to play all around the field (Hairston, Gonzalez, and Morse) thereby increasing their chances of making the 25-man.

And now comes the most difficult of them all. Pitchers. I'm going to break them down between starters and relievers.

Starters (5 total):
John Lannan*
Livan Hernandez*
Yunesky Maya
Jordan Zimmermann*
Jason Marquis*
Tom Gorzelanny
Shairon Martis
Garrett Mock
Luis Atilano
Ross Detwiler
Chien-Ming Wang*
Brian Broderick

Relievers (7 total):
Collin Balester*
Sean Burnett*
Adam Carr
Tyler Clippard*
Cole Kimball
Elvin Ramirez
Henry Rodriguez
Atahualpa Severino
Doug Slaten*
Craig Stammen*
Drew Storen*
Joe Bisenius
Chad Gaudin
Ryan Mattheus
Todd Coffey*

Wow. That is an awful lot of players from which to choose. Now here are some of the battles we should expect to see solved this spring (analysis as we get closer to decision time).

Catchers - Wilson Ramos and Jesus Flores vs. Pudge Rodriguez
- Who starts on Opening Day? Will we see both of the young stud's replace the veteran HOFer? Will Flores finally be healthy?

Infield Bench - Alex Cora vs Alberto Gonzalez
- Does Gonzalez have a leg up because of his history on the club, or will it go to the more experienced Alex Cora?

Outfield - Left-Field - Rick Ankiel vs. Roger Bernadina vs. Michael Morse
- Will there be a straight lefty-righty platoon? Who will start Opening Day? Will all 3 make the roster?

Outfield Bench - Losers of Left-Field Starter battle vs. Matt Stairs
- Will the veteran's big left-handed bat and power potential keep him on the roster?

Starting Pitchers - Battle for the 5th Rotation Spot
- Will Gorzelanny win the 5th spot? Will he be handed the job even if he has a bad spring? What happens to those who don't win the 5th spot; minors or release? What will a healthy Chien-Ming Wang look like? Will Detwiler finally reach his potential? What will a dominant Venezuelan Winter Leagues performance mean for Yunesky Maya, has he turned the corner?

Bullpen - Battle for the Bullpen
- Who will be given a spot based on last year's performance? Will Storen be sent to the minors? Will Todd Coffey and Chad Gaudin be given spots regardless of performance? What will Henry Rodriguez do? Will Balester control the ball enough to earn a spot? Will Chad Gaudin earn a spot?

I hope you enjoyed our quick look at all the possible battles that will take place this year down in windy Viera!

Any other battles that you are looking forward to? Sound off in the comments.


  1. Looking at the list one thing that jumps out at me is how much depth we have now compared to the Leatherpants era. Sure, we don't have enough elite talent to contend yet, but at least if Zimmerman goes down we won't face the spectacle of Kory Casto at 3rd and Aaron Boone at 1st batting cleanup like we did in 2008.

  2. This is going to be fun to watch!

  3. I agree with everything you wrote except the following. Henry Rodriguez should make the team over Todd Coffey.

    Also important to watch how Corey Brown plays in CF. If he does well in spring and at Triple A he could be the starting CF by June or July. The Nats would love to have a reason to get rid of Nyjer Morgan.

  4. I thought long and hard about Todd Coffey (not really, but I will...) as well as Henry Rodriguez. I want to see if Henry Rodriguez has learned control. It's great if you can throw 100mph, but not great if you have no idea where it's going.

    I'm not too interested in Corey Brown, especially considering that Ankiel, Hairston, and Bernadina have experience in CF. Some things would need to happen to them first.

  5. Starting rotation: Drop CMW and put in Gorzelanny, at least to start the season. By all accounts CMW won't be ready until May (which means we'll be lucky if see him by August). I also tend to agree with Anon@9:46 about Rodriguez - since he's out of options he's going to get every chance in the world to stick. I used to think that Elvyn Ramirez had a real shot as a Rule 5 guy, but the Coffey signing (which I do NOT understand) will make his road much harder.

    Even though I don't think that Stairs makes the team (too one-dimensional, too old, no defense), the bench will be a LOT better than 2010. No more dealing with the endless parade of sub-Mendoza Line "hitters" like Nieves, Maxwell, Mensch, Tavares and Harris. Sometimes I wondered why the team used them, even for the pitchers - until I watched the pitchers try to bunt. Ugly. I hope that improves this year, too.

  6. Henry Rodriguez might not have perfect control, but he does have a higher K/BB than Coffey and a lower ERA/FIP/xFIP. If it comes down to it and they produce equally, I would still want the guy who throws hard enough to make fans pay attention.

  7. I really think that Gorzelanny is going to struggle and I think that a healthy CMW will give the brass a reason to put him in the rotation.

    In terms of Rodriguez and Ramirez I would love to see them make the pen out of spring training, but I think that the team is going to go with the proven (read: veteran) guys first. Like I said, this is what I think will happen, rather than what I would choose.

  8. I really hope we don't give up of Jesus Flores. When healthy, he's really performed well, and I could realyl look forward to a 2012 platoon of Ramos and Flores.

  9. I could see either Ramos or Flores included in a mid-season trade, after the latter proves that he is healthy.

  10. Okay you completely lost me ... attributed to too much time indoors because of the snow.

    Chien-Ming Wang has not pitched in over 2 years. TWO YEARS. And the last time he did pitch his injury made him look worst than Jason Marquis at the beginning of last year ... can you say John Patterson ... Shawn Hill ...

    He isn't healthy ... at least in the MLB pitch for 200 inning sense? And you are picking him over Gorzelanny a guy who actually picked up 11 quality starts while still working in the bullpen.

    Clearly the guy who wrote this must be living in Peter Pan Land.

  11. Greetings from Peter Pan Land,

    I absolutely can understand Gorzelanny making the rotation, I agree that it is so much more likely than CMW. But I am out on a limb on this one, its fun to take a few chances and make some random guesses. Join me on my limb in Peter Pan Land, you will enjoy yourself.

    Thanks for reading!

  12. I think you'll be in nightmare alka-seltzer land when Gorzelanny shows as the #1 starter out the chute for the Nats as he did with the Cubs. While good ol' CMW is still rehabbing.

    Because of how he was abused by Tracy in 2007 the big question is can he continue that on past the all-star break? My recommendation would be to limit Gorzelanny's pitch count to 90-100 and total innings to around 160 to maintain that effectiveness. Hopefully McCatty and Riggleman are going to be smart enough to know Gorzelanny's history. He will definitely put pressure on Zimmermann and Detwiler to perform. And that's a good thing.

    Maya is still the "Y" factor though ... If he can translate his higher velocity use of Livo's repertoire to the major leagues ... and Gorzelanny pitches as he did for the Cubs through April, May and June. Plus Zimmerman pitches as he did before the TJ ... you have a staff that could be comparable to the Braves.

    There are still too many if's both positionally and pitching-wise. I expect some guys from AAA to come up and be a part of the mix before too long.

    CMW is a shot in the dark.