I think the team brain-trust has been very concerned recently about the bull-pen. In my opinion. THAT is the Nat’s weakest link right now, and is the main reason for the decision to put Detwiler in that key group. He has what is needed for that role, experience and high heat. He also brings the pen a second lefty as well as the ability to play a variety of roles from long-relief as well as possibly closing a game or two.
The way I see it right now, six of the seven bull-pen spots are set. Here are my picks for those six: Soriano, Storen, Clippard (photo above), Detwiler, Blevins and Stammen. Unfortunately only two of this group have put up good numbers in spring training thus far: Blevins and Clippard. Soriano, the nominal “closer,” has looked like anything but that! The same goes for Drew Storen, the very effective closer a couple of years ago. So the chances are good that we may see Clippard closing games soon.
So, are you wondering who has the inside track on the remaining bull-pen slot? Glad you asked:) Aaron Barrett. Aaron was the closer last year for the Harrisburg Senators, the Nats’ AA team. He had a great season in that role. He also played in the Arizona Fall league for the team Matt Williams managed! A look at the outstanding numbers Aaron has put up this Spring, and I expect to see him throw an inning in today’s game; it will be televised:) The team brain-trust is talking a lot among themselves about this guy, trust me!
p.s. Click here to read about Clippard and the bobblehead campaign.
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.