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.

Zach Says I Ain’t Going Back to Syracuse!

With two four-baggers in his first two major league games Zach Walters is making a statement with his bat.  His pinch-hit blast in the 8th inning last night (April 16—my birthday) was the icing on the cake of the fifth come-from-behind win for the Nats of the young 2014 season.  And it was a no-doubter; hitting half way up the tall foul pole!  Zach explained in the after-game interview with Dan Kolko that he and the pitcher he hit it off (Mike Dunn) played on the same team in high school 🙂

I think Zach has a good chance now of sticking on the 25-man roster for a while.  It doesn’t hurt that he and Matt Williams have a history going back to when both were in the Arizona Diamondback’s system.

In the “Ex-Nats News Department” I watched local guy Steve Lombardozzi (from Columbia, Md) play with the Orioles yesterday.  He got a base hit and has been starting at 2B a lot this year, due to Manny Machado’s injury.  Steve is hitting .298 so far.

 

OK, it’s time to stir the “SOUP”

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AP Photo

This is the time in Spring Training (ST) for reckless prognosticators (like me for example) to just throw caution to the wind and do the impossible:  predict who (when I know it’s too early for a sane person to make any predictions:) will make the 25 man roster as position player subs.  First, a little math:  assuming the Nats carry 12 pitchers (5 starters and a 7-man bullpen) and 8 starters at the 8 positions in the field besides the pitcher, that leaves 5 bench-warmers.

So here we go:

1.  Jose Lobaton, catcher.  This is a given since the team made it clear when they traded for him that they expected Jose to be the backup to Ramos.  Every team has to carry a backup catcher.  The Nats will have plenty more of these at Syracuse and Harrisburg, should something happen to upset the plans.  Note:  Jose is not impressing anyone yet with his lack of hitting!

2.  Jamey Carroll, infielder extraordinaire.  He reminds me of myself, low on talent and size, but a 100% “gamer.”  He does all the little things very well.  Also, Matt Williams knows him well (from their days together with the Diamondbacks) and clearly likes him a lot, just look at the playing time he’s getting!

3.  Jeff Kobernus, OF AND (!) INF.  Like Jamey except he is even more versatile in that he can hold the fort in both the infield AND the outfield.  He has been hitting consistently since day one of ST.

4.  Zack Walters, infielder.  He played well last September and has shown me he is ready for prime time this Spring.  Note:  there have been several other youngsters who have shown great talent this ST but Zach (like Ryan Zimmerman several years ago) is the most “ready” of them all, with an OBP (on-base-percentage) well north of .500 at this point!

5.  Nate McLouth, outfielder.  Nate had a helluva comeback year with the Orioles last year.  He can hit, play OF and run the bases much better than average.  He would possibly be the best 4th outfielder in baseball.

Who does this leave on the outside looking in?  Tyler Moore and The Danny.  The Nats have been very patiently giving both many chances to make the team, but I say time has run out for both.  Neither one is looking good with the bat.

This Blog is not about The Danny (not much)

A lot of Gnats fans are wondering how the competition to fill the fifth starting pitcher slot is likely to be resolved.  Well, here is my humble opinion.  And I’ll preface it (as an experienced gamer) by saying such competition is very healthy and the Nats are extremely lucky to have so much talent in Spring Training Camp!

Ross “Det” Detwiler:  I think this is his to lose, and I say this for several reasons.  First, he has the most quality major league experience.  Second, he is out of options (he can’t be sent back to the minor leagues–there is a rule limiting the number of times a player can be sent down to the minor leagues).  Third, he was VERY EFFECTIVE early last season, until he got injured.

Roark pitching last season. Photo courtesy of Getty Images

Roark pitching last season. Photo courtesy of Getty Images

Tanner Roark:  Many will argue he should get the nod, as he was arguably the Nats best pitcher over the last 6 weeks of the season last Fall.  I too was impressed with his success last year.  And this will likely mean that if Det is the fifth starter, Tanner Roark will be the “long man” in the bullpen.  So the team wins either way!

Taylor Jordan:  With the least amount of major league experience, unless Jordan really lights up the scene in Florida, the best thing for his development would be to start the season with the Nats’ AAA team in Syracuse , pitch a lot and be ready if someone gets hurt on the parent team.  This is a talented kid with beaucoup upside potential who may actually be ready for THE SHOW if the team had a space!

On to the “Danny Watch.”  Whoopee, he got his first hit yesterday.  It’s only Spring Training, and the new manager has to give Danny Espinosa a chance, but I think the hand-writing is out there.  After 2+ seasons in the bigs, Danny just cannot hit big-league pitching.  Meanwhile, among the infielders in camp, Zach Walters can, Anthony Rendon and Jamey Carroll can, and some of the other “kids” are looking good too.  I recommend Mike Rizzo call Bo Porter (Houston manager and former Nats’ third-base coach) and work something out to ship Danny to Houston.  They need lots of new blood in Houston!