More on the Scherzer Trade

With a bit more time to reflect on this massive coup, I’ll admit that the Nats now have some insurance in case JZimm, Fister or Strassburg is traded.  If i were the GM, as I said before, I would make EVERY effort to keep the first two!

They also have some insurance (though not on a par with Scherzer) if Ian Desmond walks after this season, having acquired Trea Turner and Yunel Escober who can both at least fill in at SS until a real good option comes along.

Even with Tanner Roark likely moving to long-relief in the pen (and I predict he will excell in that role) Mike Rizzo still needs one more late inning flame thrower.  Treinin has some potential, but I’m not quite convinced he’s NASTY enough:)

Ian Desmond Takes on Another Challenge

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Ian is one of the strongest leaders on the team, and now he has apparently taken on the challenge of giving up chewing tobacco.  He stopped “dipping” during the Christmas holiday season and says he got through Spring Training without a hitch.  Smoking, chewing and dipping are all habit forming (and are popular with athletes) and have all been linked to cancer, gum problems and tooth loss.  Ian’s mother is still a huge influence and she has been encouraging him in this effort.  He is well aware also that he is a role model for the younger generation.

Desmond has always been one of the most inspirational players on the Nats roster.  He spent years in the minors working hard to reach “The Show.”  I still remember seeing him playing for the Potomac Nats and during Spring Training in Florida (2005 or 2006).

This season has been a struggle for the whole team, including Ian.  His hitting and fielding are both below what we know he’s capable of, though he is the team leader in runs-batted-in at this point.  He is still excelling in a couple of areas however; he and Danny Espinosa together have more home-runs than any other middle-infielder combination in the major leagues!  And as usual Desmond is a superb team leader.  In every game we see him talking to his teammates (especially the younger pitchers like Treinen and Barrett) calming them and keeping them focussed on the essential task at hand.

Now Harper Out for Two Months!

This latest news is a huge blow to the Nats chances for fighting their way to the playoffs.  Both Zim and Bryce got seriously hurt sliding headfirst.

Doug Fister and Wilson Ramos are on the road back however.  It seems possible that Fister could start a game by about May 7th.  Ramos is practicing “lightly.”  It will likely take him several more weeks to regain the strength needed to bat with power in game conditions.  But he hopes to appear in minor-league games this week.

This is the time for the bench players to step up and show us why they made the roster coming out of Spring Training!  I have to admit, after hoping the Nats would trade Danny Espinosa before Spring Training, that he has made me VERY GLAD he is still here!  I did not think it would be possible to make Danny a major league hitter, but I was wrong:)  I’m impressed with the improved hitting thus far.  And we all know he is a gold glove calibre fielder.  In fact many of the usual suspects posting on the team website are calling for Danny to REPLACE Ian Desmond at SS!

Late breaking news:  Zack Walters has been sent down to Syracuse as well as Taylor Jordan. Ryan Mattheus is back up here.  The last time Mattheus pitched well was in 2012; I hope they don’t have to use him in a critical situation.  Maybe they want to have him in case they need a “mop-up” pitcher in a game that has got out of hand:)  I also hope they bring Souza back.

Manager Matt Blows One

Matt Williams cost the Nats the game last night (April 21).  In the 8th inning Tyler Clippard was on the mound.  An Angels rally was gathering steam with two dangerous left-handed batters coming up (Aybar and Raul Ibanez).  Ibanez is a well-known “Nats-Killer”.  Everyone knows Clippard is having serious problems with Lefties, especially this year.  The Nats had 3 left-handed pitchers in the pen and Cedeno was all warmed up. But Matt stuck with Clippard!  I was screaming at my TV! I think even my 5-yr old grandson would have brought in Cedeno 🙂  So the bottom line is the Angels proceeded to score 4 runs as both batters came through with base hits, and Ibanez hit his over Bryce’s head in left field!

Ian Desmond’s 2 errors in the inning didn’t help!  But errors happen, while manager decisions are avoidable.

 

Mike Rizzo Strikes Again

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Josh Roenicke (photo courtesy of the FanHub)

He knows a team can never have too many pitchers.  The Nationals (Nats) just signed another relief pitcher to a minor league contract.  And this one, Josh Roenicke, is shortstop Ian Desmond’s brother-in-law!

On his way up through the minor leagues (in 2007) Josh played for one of my favorite teams, the Chattanooga Lookouts.  He has pitched parts of the past 6 seasons in the major leagues.  Last year he was on the mound for 62 innings with the Minnesota Twins.  Command has always been an issue for him.  For his first appearance in the “bigs” he struck out the first batter, walked the second and hit the third with a pitch.

Josh comes from a blue-ribbon baseball family:  his father Gary played for the Orioles (76-88), brother Jason is now playing in the Toronto Blue Jays minor league system, and his uncle Ron is managing the Milwaukee Brewers.

I remember watching his father play in Baltimore.  In 1979, he and John Lowenstein were part of a platoon that covered left field and produced 37 homeruns and 86 runs batted in!  The Orioles went to the World Series that year.

I wish Josh good luck vying for a spot in the Nats bullpen.

Breaking News: Washington Nationals’ 2014 Roster

In the past week, there has been a minor flurry of meaningful activity that will bolster the Washington Nationals’ propects for success in 2014. While Anthony Rendon will be the likely starting second baseman, every team needs backup players. Former Nat, Jamey Carroll, was signed to a minor league contract. I predict this master utility infielder will make the major league roster. Besides having all the tools to really help the Nats, the team is far from confident infielder Danny Espinosa will make the roster; he cannot hit big league pitching.

Meanwhile a former teammate of Ryan Zimmerman at University of Virginia, slugger Mark Reynolds, was rumored to be a possible Nationals’ addition. That would have been a mistake (but an understandable one since Nats General Manager, Mike Rizzo, had signed Reynolds for the Arizona Diamondbacks in 2004). Reynolds has proven to be a human strikeout machine, setting several all-time major league records in that department! Luckily for the Nats, Reynolds signed Friday with the Milwaukee Brewers.

Also on Friday, January 17, the team reached agreement on two-year contract extensions with Ian Desmond and Jordan Zimmerman. Desmond will also get another $500K bonus if he wins the National League MVP award (he was considered for the award last year). Both players had been negotiating for longer-term deals, but ran out of time as the arbitration deadline loomed. Four others were also signed by the deadline to one-year deals: Drew Storen, Ross Detwiler, Wilson Ramos and new relief pitcher Jerry Blevins.

Apparently General Manager Mike Rizzo agrees with me that the bullpen needs more. He is talking with Grant Balfour, who is expected to decide any day now which team he will play for this season. Balfour was the closer for Oakland in 2013 and saved 38 games. If the Nats grab him, the move may presage a trade of Drew Storen.