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From NatsTown to oblivion, revisited

Nov 12, 2010, 3:45 PM EST

Photo by Mark Zuckerman / NATS INSIDER
Elijah Dukes is one of 13 2009 Nats who didn't play in the majors this season.

Way back on February 2, when this site was only two days old and had far fewer visitors than it does today, I wrote about the staggering list of players who after leaving the Nationals never played for another big-league club again.

At the time, I came up with 61 guys who played their final major-league game wearing a Nats uniform between 2005-08. The correct number is actually 59, because I forgot that Paul Lo Duca played a few games for the Marlins in 2008 and Chad Cordero resurfaced with the Mariners this year.

The conclusion I drew back then was that the Nationals, desperate to fill out rosters, were forced to play way too many past-their-prime veterans or unqualified rookies who probably shouldn't have been there in the first place. As the franchise improved over time, the hope would be that fewer of those kind of players are needed.

So, have things gotten better for the Nats in this department? No, not really.

An analysis of the Nationals' 2009 roster reveals 13 more players who didn't appear in a major-league game this season. That's the sameRead more »

  1. Steve M. - Nov 12, 2010 at 4:05 PM

    I hope Justin Maxwell is on your 2010 list. How did you leave him off.I would still expect Jesus Flores who is on your list from 2009 to appear at the MLB level again.I still see a chance for Miguel Batista to play again, and some of the other names clearly were fill-ins like Maldonado, Mench, Bisenius, and Chico so there is much improvement.Good stuff to look at all the marginal players that have played in Washington.

  2. Mrs. Z. - Nov 12, 2010 at 4:06 PM

    Is it sad that I can't remember ever hearing of half these guys?

  3. NatsJack in Florida - Nov 12, 2010 at 4:11 PM

    Great analysis, Mark. Another way to gauge the Nats would be to list current players counted on making major contributions that would be starters or major contributors on another club.Short of Zimmerman, the soon to be former Nat Dunn, and possibly Willingham, I do not see any other starters that would be classified as major contributors for another club. And I'm not sure ANY of our starting staff short of the recovering Strasburg would even remotely be considered as a major contributor for another staff.

  4. dj in Fl. - Nov 12, 2010 at 4:12 PM

    Once again a special thanks to Jeffery Loria for completly gutting a solid franchise. Hopefully our minor league system is regaining its footing, and has real prospects.

  5. Mark L - Nov 12, 2010 at 4:16 PM

    Teams that lose a lot are salvaged many times by 'Fan Favorites'. The kind of player you come to the park to see, even if you think the team will probably lose. Adam Dunn is that kind of player, no insult intended to Ryan Zimmerman. People have come to watch Adam Dunn all year, in the hope that he will hammer a ptich in to the stratosphere.Let's hope that the Nats will recover from their 'amateur hour' negotiations and sign the guy. They will look like fools if they don't. To quote the great Dick Allen — "You know how you play first base — you hit!"

  6. greg - Nov 12, 2010 at 4:18 PM

    natjack, i think zimmermann would be welcome on a number of others staffs and would be a contributor.but, to be fair, he wasn't a major contributor to us last year, just a late-season injury recovery.

  7. Anonymous - Nov 12, 2010 at 4:30 PM

    Sean Burnett, Drew Storen, Ryan Zimmerman, Jordan Zimmermann, Stephen Strasburg, Wilson Ramos, Josh Willingham, Ian Desmond, and Ivan Rodriguez would all be sought after by other clubs and hopefully guys like Danny Espinosa and John Lannan could make that list.When I think of names like Justin Maxwell and Wil Nieves being on the 25 man knowing there isn't 1 other team that would take them, you know you have issues.

  8. Todd Boss - Nov 12, 2010 at 4:33 PM

    Love this analysis Mark, thanks. this list may end up being not quite as bad for 2009, as I think its safe to say Flores is a major leaguer and its far too early to give up on Martis. Its hard to argue with your 2010 list either. Some of those guys I feel we'll re-sign and they'll reappear in 2011 but only time will tell.

  9. Doc - Nov 12, 2010 at 4:36 PM

    @ Mark L.: Thanks Mark L. I love that quote from Dick (Don't call me Richie) Allen–email it to Bill Ladson. My point exactly. Hey Allen's play is alive and well in the spirit of Ryan (Good hit-Sorta Can Field)Howard!Its quotes like that, that define the historical personna of baseball.

  10. NatsJack in Florida - Nov 12, 2010 at 4:44 PM

    My point wasn't whether someone would be sought after. It was would they be considered a MAJOR contributor. And besides the three that I named (and I didn't cover the bullpen as I believe it is the strongest part of our organization) I do not see any one else beyond the three that I named.That doesn't mean we have any talent. It just means that the talent we have hasn't proven itself yet.

  11. JayB - Nov 12, 2010 at 4:51 PM

    Mark what is missing from the discussion here is how many innings these guy played for the Nats. Matt Chico had what one start in 2010…that is a far cry from the 2008 mess…..They are making progress but way too slowly. They could spend more money and have a better bench. They could spend more money and have more sure things…and less Wil N types. It is all about spending money at this point…they could be better and they are……much better!

  12. Doc - Nov 12, 2010 at 5:04 PM

    Interesting stats Mark. As JayB alludes to, the significant variable here is money. The Nats, too often in the past, have shopped at Dollar Tree, when they should have been checking out items at Trader Jacks'!

  13. Traveler8 - Nov 12, 2010 at 5:31 PM

    I thought Ray King was traded, I think to Minnesota, maybe Milwaukee – late in the season. Did he not appear at all as a reliever for them?

  14. Steve M. - Nov 12, 2010 at 5:33 PM

    I love it! I agree 100% with JayB. He actually said "making progress…" and then threw in "way too slowly" which is negative but true.I totally agree on the bench. Outside of Alberto Gonzalez, the bench was horrible and probably the worst in baseball.I think the team has an interesting situation in approving the bench with Jesus Flores. Clearly he isn't needed in 2011 as a catcher but certainly he can compete with Ramos for the starter in 2012 as Pudge will be gone. Can JFlo play any other positions to be more valuable as a role player for 2011?Further, with Willingham in LF and Morse in RF and Bernadina in CF, Nyjer Morgan can be a bench player which is an improvement over Willie Harris.

  15. raymitten - Nov 12, 2010 at 5:36 PM

    Somehow I found this article more interesting and insightful than Bill Ladson's piece about the soon-to-be-released Wil Nieves' desire for Carlos Pena to sign with the Nats.

  16. Anonymous - Nov 12, 2010 at 5:43 PM

    Elijah Dukes no doubt wishes he could go from NatsTown to oblivion, since it sadly looks like he'll be going from NatsTown to prison. As bad as oblivion may be, at least there you don't have to think twice before bending down to pick up the soap you drop in the shower.

  17. Steve M. - Nov 12, 2010 at 6:02 PM

    Ray – That article about Nieves playing alongside Carlos Pena in a way is sad if Nieves actually believes it.I think Nieves should be thinking of coaching as he is a super person. At this point I don't even think Manny Acta would give him a bench seat on the Indians!

  18. Mark Zuckerman - Nov 12, 2010 at 6:05 PM

    Traveler8 said…I thought Ray King was traded, I think to Minnesota, maybe Milwaukee – late in the season. Did he not appear at all as a reliever for them?The Nats traded King to the Brewers in Sept. 2007, then re-signed him the next year. He pitched in 12 games for the Nats in 2008, then was released and subsequently retired.

  19. Mark - Nov 12, 2010 at 6:10 PM

    Mark, seriously? Why isn't JMax on your list? Are you drinking the Kool-Aid too?The bench was so bad last year that JMax, WillieHaHa, and Wil Never Nieves all couldn't hit their own weight.Adam Kennedy was the star of your bench and he has been cut. This team won't ever get better if they dint exorcise the demons of the past.Spend the money and get away from the trash heap. Sorry, Justin Maxwell should be the first name on your list Mark.

  20. NatBiscuit - Nov 12, 2010 at 6:23 PM

    I predict that of the 2009 players Flores, Orr, Garate, Segovia, and Martis all play in the majors again although only Flores and Maris will play again for the Nationals. Garate and Segovia are a litte questionable though I think of the two Garate has the better chance. Orr is just too useful not to make a roster at some point. Flores may yet be a starter in the majors. Martis will get his shot – he will never be more than a back of the rotation guy, but he is capable of filling a rotation spot on a reasonably good team and he's only 23 if memory serves.

  21. MikeHarris - Nov 12, 2010 at 6:23 PM

    That list is scary.I remember being somewhat excited when the Nats got Junior Spivey. How'd that work out? Didn' he bust a wrist in the batting cage?I saw the one start made by that White kid against the Cardinals. Didn't he become some kind of ba-zillionaire?Nice to see Bacsik took his moment of fame – Mr. Groove It – and went home.

  22. Anonymous - Nov 12, 2010 at 6:35 PM

    I miss the days of Mike Restovich, Tony Batista, and Jason Simontacchi. I can't believe I sat through a couple dozen games that year.

  23. Mark Zuckerman - Nov 12, 2010 at 6:42 PM

    You guys are correct: I should have included Maxwell on the list of 2010 Nats who may not play in the majors next year. Glossed over that one somehow.

  24. Anonymous - Nov 12, 2010 at 7:08 PM

    Thanks Mark! This type of analysis shows the chronic lack of scouting and front office expertise in recognizing real versus imagined talent, which makes you wonder how the heck Rizzo got a promotion!!!

  25. Anonymous - Nov 12, 2010 at 7:20 PM

    Mark, thanks for adding Maxwell to your list!Lerner, Feffer, and Rizzo need to take a hard look in the mirror as well as the conscience of Bud Selig for the team the Lerner's adopted.I will say though that with 4 years of ownership, Rizzo had a chance for major strides in 2010 and put together a horrific bench that even Jim Bowden would laugh at.What a laugher in the trifecta of:1) Justin Maxwell2) Wil Nieves3) Willie HarrisStarting Centerfielder1) Nyjer MorganOpening Day Starter1) John LannanStar Pitcher1) Livan Hernandez – 45 years old

  26. Evan S - Nov 12, 2010 at 7:30 PM

    I think Batista will be in the majors next year, but not with the nationals. Only way he isn't is if he retires. Bergman, Chico, Bisenus and Walker all could if they land somewhere that really needs them or make a splash in spring training.

  27. JD - Nov 12, 2010 at 7:52 PM

    Evan SWalker had shoulder or elbow surgery; I don't think he's ever coming back.

  28. P. Cole - Nov 12, 2010 at 8:34 PM

    Does this mean someone actually let Daniel Cabrera pitch for their team?

  29. Anonymous - Nov 12, 2010 at 9:35 PM

    Jorge de la Rosa, really he is a top of the rotation guy!? C'mon Mr. Rizzo go after the real stars, look what Billy Beane did in two days, get David deJesus someone who you should have gone hard after, it did not take much to pry him away and then a great waiver wire pick up of Edwin Encarnacion. How about some movement!? Or are we going to wait around and feed last on the carcass of free agency, trades and the waiver wire???

  30. JD - Nov 12, 2010 at 9:49 PM

    De LA Rosa is absolutely the type of pitcher we should pursue; 113 strike outs in 121 innings; ERA of 4.22 in Colorado; left handed power pitcher; WAR 1.7 in 2010 but 3.7 in 2009 and 2.4 in 2008 and only 26 years old. Close to the top of our rotation I would say.Edwin Encarnacion a great waiver pick up? whatever.

  31. sec3 - Nov 12, 2010 at 11:31 PM

    One more thing to consider is how much that "Wash." on their resume hurts their employability.

  32. JaneB - Nov 13, 2010 at 12:06 AM

    I'm both abashed and … I don't know what… At how happy I am just to READ some of these names. Guys I really liked for one reason or another . JayB would be appalled I know… But I send a shout out to Deivi Cruz, my wonderful Junior Spivey, Wiki, Damian, John Patterson, Dmitri, Willy Mo and Jesus Flores. Hope we get Jesus back, or that someone does. But every one of these guys did something that warmed my heart. And, even if none of them were good enough to go on…and I include the guys who played in 2010 who may not, like Justin and Wilie, whom I also loved EVEN THOUGH they weren't great… Here's the bottom line to me. They all played the best they could for us. We may have wished for more, but so did they. And the end of your career is a hard place to be, especially when you've been involved in building it since elementary school. It would be great to have players SO goo that none would retire after playing for us. But I feel bad for these guys, and grateful to have seen so many of 'em on my team.

  33. Doc - Nov 13, 2010 at 12:55 AM

    Billy Beane with money, now that would be one hell've dangerous GM! He'd have a team that everybody else would be chasing. He's still the prototype for the state-of-the-art GM. I wonder what draft choice(s) he got for Zito?

  34. sec3mysofa - Nov 13, 2010 at 3:39 AM

    @doc: that would be the 2007 draft, 41 & 72 pverall, if I'm reading this right:Sean R Doolittle, 1b;Corey A Brown, lf

  35. Sunderland - Nov 13, 2010 at 12:58 PM

    Sean Doolittle, teammate of Ryan Zimmerman at UVA, ACC Player of the Year, saddled with knee injuries and surgeries, yet to sniff the majors but still a well regarded prospect.Corey Brown, turns 25 this month, outfielder, did well this year at AA, but got promoted to AAA, and hit .193 in 135 AB's.Player development, part science, part art, part luck.

  36. S3 ms - Nov 13, 2010 at 2:21 PM

    So, 2 guys who may never make the Show, and Beane still comes out good. Next question: what did the A's do with all the money saved? Didn't they sign a free agent?

  37. raymitten - Nov 13, 2010 at 5:26 PM

    Regarding DeLaRosa, I see him as another in the Wang/Webb school of pitchers that are often hurt. I wouldn't waste my money on him. Bash Livo all you want, but he's taking his turn every fifth day. How many months was DeLaRosa on the DL last year?

  38. zimbo - Nov 13, 2010 at 7:48 PM

    Great stuff, Mark.The one I remember most fondly is Alex Escobar — a .300 hitter and a lightning bolt in the outfield, but so brittle he made Nicky J look like the Iron Man.I join JaneB in saluting these guys who tried hard but fell short of great — just like most of us.

  39. A Dunn - Nov 13, 2010 at 8:10 PM

    So Huff gets a title shot and what do I get? A one-way ticket to Palookaville. You was my agent, you were supposed to look out for me.

  40. natsfan1a - Nov 13, 2010 at 9:26 PM

    Me three, Zimbo and JaneB.Confidential to A. Dunn, you coulda been a contender…—I join JaneB in saluting these guys who tried hard but fell short of great — just like most of us.

  41. JD - Nov 13, 2010 at 10:23 PM

    De La Rosa missed the 1st half last year due to a finger injury; not elbow or shoulder. No reason to call him injury prone. He also allowed 3 runs or less in 13 of his 14 starts last year and went 16 – 9 after starting 0-6 in 2009. He also averages about a strike out an inning which means he has stuff to miss bats unlike Livo who gets by by tricking hitters.I think a Marquis like contract ( 2 years 15 mil ) for De La Rosa makes a ton of sense.

  42. Anonymous - Nov 14, 2010 at 12:06 AM

    I still have hopes for Wil Nieves, afterall, Pudge can't hang around forever and a tandom of a recovered Nieves and Ramos would seem to secure the backstop for years to come. JTinSC

  43. Rob Dibble's Ghost - Nov 14, 2010 at 4:29 AM

    Pete Orr signed with the Phillies this past week. Who knows, he may be back in the majors this year…

  44. Sunderland - Nov 14, 2010 at 2:15 PM

    Doesn't seem to me there's any way Nieves can stay with the Nats. Our 40 man roster has Nieves, Pudge, Ramos and Flores. If we keep Nieves, that's 4 catchers on the 40 man. Not gonna happen. The only hope for Nieves with the Nats is if we trade or 60 day DL one of those three.Maybe Nieves can catch on elsewhere, but with a guaranteed major league contract? Doubt it. Perhaps he gets DFA'd, and we sign him to a minor league deal.

  45. BinM - Nov 14, 2010 at 5:20 PM

    @Sunderland & Anon 7:06: Nieves is up for Arbitration again, and looks to be a non-tender candidate. Maybe the Nationals offer a minor-league deal, but not much else, imo.

  46. Another_Sam - Nov 14, 2010 at 9:02 PM

    Who was the guy, when he went to the Orioles a number of years ago, said [in print] "If I can't help this club I don't belong in baseball."? Anyone recall?

  47. Another_Sam - Nov 14, 2010 at 9:10 PM

    Whatever happend to Martis, the guy from Curacao who had a few reasonable starts a couple of years ago? How did he have a couple of effective big league outings and return to oblivion? I liked him because I like Curacao — the island, I mean.

  48. Anonymous - Nov 14, 2010 at 9:17 PM

    Martis pitched all of the 2010 season in AAA Syracuse. He's still on the Nats 40 man roster and may yet pitch again in the big leagues – either for the Nats or for some other team. He's definitely not in oblivion.

  49. Michael J. Hayde - Nov 14, 2010 at 10:36 PM

    Martis probably will return in 2011… when three (or more) of our starters go down with injuries, as seems to happen every season.I'm expecting another train wreck next year, but I'll still attend games when I can and watch on TV when I can't. That's what fans do.





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