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5 sure things at Nats camp

Feb 11, 2011, 4:20 PM EST

Photo by Bob Youngentob for
Livan Hernandez is the least of the Nationals' worries entering spring training.

There are plenty of uncertainties surrounding the Nationals heading into the start of spring training next week, and plenty of time and ink and pixels will be devoted to them.

There are, however, a handful of certainties surrounding the Nats as the 2011 season approaches, players whose roster spots are secure and who don't face any serious question marks this spring. They won't draw many headlines in Viera; they'll simply show up every morning, work hard and make sure they're ready to be counted on by Opening Day.

Let's take this opportunity to highlight five "sure things" about the Nationals entering spring training…

MLB Network aired a show the other night ranking the top 10 third basemen in the game right now. There was no doubt ZimmermanRead more »

  1. Anonymous - Feb 11, 2011 at 4:33 PM

    Remember, Werth no longer has the Nationals pitching staff to feast off of 18-19 times a year… and now must face the 4 #1's the Phillies have.That'll probably knock his numbers down quite a bit.

  2. Steve M. - Feb 11, 2011 at 4:41 PM

    Mark, good article. The MLB Show you refer to on Top 3rd baseman's actually aired for the first time a couple of weeks ago and they seem to show quite a few replays! Certainly a toss up on Zim and Longoria.On LaRoche, I think you also get better clutch stats then his predecessor which will come in handy in a few key spots.On Livan, I hope we get the same pitcher as last year with only slight regression. I was disappointed as the season went on that he looked real tired and that seemed to bring down the energy level of the team. It worries me. He missed helping himself in key bunt attempts and some fielding plays. Not sure if I would call him a sure thing for 2011 but certainly he was needed in 2010.

  3. DFL - Feb 11, 2011 at 4:41 PM

    Zimmerman 21 HRS 76 RBIS .268 BAWerth 18 HRS 68RBIS .257 BALaRoche 23 HRS 79 RBIS .258 BAHernandez 6-14 4.98 ERABurnett 3-5 3.88 ERAJim Riggleman fired July 17, 2011

  4. Feel Wood - Feb 11, 2011 at 4:46 PM

    It's time for fans to start wearing their ballcaps cocked to the side in imitation of Burnett. To be a good reliever, a pitcher needs to either have wacky facial hair or a wacky cap thing going on (e.g. the flat-brimmed Chief). It's one of the unwritten rules of baseball.

  5. Steve M. - Feb 11, 2011 at 4:47 PM

    DFL – Great to have your pessimism on record. Can't you find another place to Post like the Orioles blog?Anon @11:33. That is a true line of thinking and I have said the same thing. Big difference getting someone inside your division.Speaking of Werth and MLB Networks. Mitch Williams on Wednesday's HOT STOVE shocked the group of analysts when he predicted Dominic Brown who is the heir apparent to Werth will not make the Opening Day roster for the Phillies this year! He said he hasn't adjusted to MLB pitching!

  6. NatsJack in Florida - Feb 11, 2011 at 4:56 PM

    Five sure things this year sure beats the 1 1/2 sure things last year which were Zimmerman and 1/2 for Dunn. Hopefully, next year we can get to 7 or 8 sure things.Overall, I'd say the roster is at least 30% better than last season which should equate to another 7 to 10 game improvement.I'll head over to Viera Sunday and do a head count on the number of early arrivals to camp. Tommorrow it's off to St. Lucie were the Mets already have 30 – 35 guys in camp.

  7. SpashCity - Feb 11, 2011 at 4:59 PM

    Zimmerman 32 HRs 107 RBIs .298 BAWerth 28 HRs 114 RBIs .282 BALaRoche 27 HRs 96 RBIs .267 BAHernandez 13-11 4.12 ERA Burnett 5-3 2.75 ERANats record (82-80)Riggleman in Top 5 for Manager of the Year

  8. Anonymous - Feb 11, 2011 at 5:01 PM

    Any one of DFL's projections could (and perhaps even will) happen, but it's highly unlikely most of them will happen and definitely not all at once. It's more likely that one of these players (and one or two unnamed others) will exceed expectations.

  9. Anonymous - Feb 11, 2011 at 5:12 PM

    What are people's thoughts about Desmond having a break out year and that he will be an additional "sure thing" next year? Obviously he has shown signs of greatness but will he be able to put it together this year and be consistant.

  10. MicheleS - Feb 11, 2011 at 5:13 PM

    Geez, too much pessimism for me. Although, SpashCity has it right. Let's think positively as spring training approaches:RZim= Gold Glove, Silver Slugger, All Star, and Top 5 in MVP.JZim = 195 Innings, 3.02 ERA, 18-11 Livo = 215 Innings, 3.85 ERA, 15-15Werth = .305 avg, 100 RBI's, 125 runs scoredStoren = 50 SavesEspinosa = Gold Glove, .285 avg, 82 RBI'sDesmond = .275 avg, 10 errorsRecord = 85-77

  11. Doc - Feb 11, 2011 at 5:15 PM

    I agree with Feel Wood! Like all lefties, Burnett cocks his hat on the left. Righties don't seem to cock their hats at all. Even the left-handed Babe cocked his hat most of the time. Why they do that is subject to the ultimate outcomes of the neurological reasearch into laterality—probably shouldn't hold our breath on that one!!!In the meantime, lets honor Burnett by cocking our hats. Hope he has a really good year!!!Goooooooooo Nats!

  12. PAY TO PLAY - Feb 11, 2011 at 5:23 PM

    SPASH CITY, I love the "homers" and MicheleS has some nice stuff too!!!!!!!!!I think Espinosa will have absolute Gold Glove stuff MicheleS but getting the award will be another issue for another day. Your Desmond 10 errors, if it were to happen over a full season, would give the Nats a 85-77 record!!!!

  13. Anonymous - Feb 11, 2011 at 5:28 PM

    "DFL said… Zimmerman 21 HRS 76 RBIS .268 BAWerth 18 HRS 68RBIS .257 BALaRoche 23 HRS 79 RBIS .258 BA"It's not inconceivable that Zim, Werth and/or LaRoche could put up these numbers by the All Star Break.

  14. DFL - Feb 11, 2011 at 5:41 PM

    Bonus PredictionsOrioles 78 wins, Nats 69 winsAdam Dunn 37 HRS 107 RBIS .266 BA and Chicago makes the playoffs.Josh Willingham 23 HRS 71 RBIS .258 BA and Oakland just misses the playoffs.Mike Rizzo is out as GM in 5 years.

  15. Feel Wood - Feb 11, 2011 at 5:47 PM

    "Tommorrow it's off to St. Lucie were the Mets already have 30 – 35 guys in camp."Yeah, but aren't most all of them Wilpon creditors?

  16. Anonymous - Feb 11, 2011 at 5:49 PM

    Extra Bonus Prediction: DFL makes a great run at unseating JayB from the Village Idiot throne, but comes up just short of the mark.

  17. natscan reduxit - Feb 11, 2011 at 5:54 PM

    "There are plenty of uncertainties surrounding the Nationals heading into the start of spring training …"… but the great thing about baseball is that 'uncertainty', at this time of year, is nothing more than another word for hope and promise.Go Nats!!

  18. SpashCity - Feb 11, 2011 at 5:58 PM

    Extra Super Bonus Prediction:Mark Reynolds: 230 Ks 22 HRs 77 RBIs .199 BADerrick Lee: 18 HRs 80 RBIs traded to SD for prospects that never developBuck Showalter: resigns in July with the Orioles 22.5 games out of the wild card, realizing he had a better chance of winning an Emmy for best supporting actress on Baseball Tonight than he did winning the pennant in Baltimore.

  19. Anonymous - Feb 11, 2011 at 6:12 PM

    I'm with MicheleS. It might be a fairy tale, but hey, its spring and we can dream a little….can't we? JTinSC

  20. Doc - Feb 11, 2011 at 6:13 PM

    @ SplashCity: Good if Buck resigns from O's! Still think he should have been signed up for the Nats last time 'round!

  21. HabsProf - Feb 11, 2011 at 6:29 PM

    One thing I am not hearing people mention is the upgrade LaRoche provides in defense. Sure, he is highly unlikely to fill Dunn's offensive shoes – but he is an above-average defensive player. That has to be of benefit when dealing with both a young infield and several young pitchers (Zimm, Storen, Strasburg). If it's reachable, he'll scoop an errant throw out of the dirt or at least keep it from going into the dugout. And you shouldn't see Riggleman switching him out late in a game for a "defensive" replacement.

  22. DFL - Feb 11, 2011 at 6:29 PM

    And another prediction:Someone will finally like me.Maybe even my Mom.

  23. JayB - Feb 11, 2011 at 6:31 PM

    I like you.

  24. Not Werth It - Feb 11, 2011 at 6:42 PM

    From now on whenever Sean Burnett heads to the mound I will be cocking my hat to the left, and instructing everybody within earshot to do the same. I can't believe I didn't think of this sooner, and I hope one day soon the whole stadium joins in.Predictions:Sean Burnett: 2-1, 2.53 ERASean Burnett after the hat cocking thing sweeps Natstown: 5-0, 1.86 ERA, 23 saves.Jayson Werth: 16 homers, 38 RBI, .278 BAJayson Werth after the Nats start losing and he starts dogging it because he is a huge tool: 5 homers, 14 RBI, .218 BA

  25. DFL - Feb 11, 2011 at 6:47 PM

    Bogus post three above. Remember the Ten Commandments- Shall Shall Not Steal.

  26. Anonymous - Feb 11, 2011 at 6:49 PM

    DFL said…… Mike Rizzo is out as GM in 5 years.———————————————–Fine. Then come back in 5 years and let us know how your predictions turned out.

  27. JayB - Feb 11, 2011 at 7:08 PM

    ABM….your so mature….

  28. King Abdullah - Feb 11, 2011 at 7:11 PM

    The Natty Natties are not good, okay. I pray to Allah they win 50 games.

  29. Mark'd - Feb 11, 2011 at 7:19 PM

    Anon @ 12:28, that is the quote of the day!

  30. N. Cognito - Feb 11, 2011 at 7:27 PM

    You can tell it's Friday.

  31. Anonymous - Feb 11, 2011 at 7:48 PM

    Corey Brown will take over in center.DFL–Is that you Zimmy?

  32. Sunderland - Feb 11, 2011 at 7:56 PM

    Spash and all you optimists. This is beyond optimism, this is fantasy."JZim = 195 Innings, 3.02 ERA, 18-11"There is zero chance, zero, that the Nats allow JZim to throw 195 innings.They'll target and limit him to something below 150 innings.He threw 70 innings combins MiLB and MLB last year. He threw 100 innings combined in 2009. He ain't going 195.DFL, our 3, 4 and 5 hitters all being held to under 80 RBI? Are you projecting injury? Cause that's the only way that happens.

  33. Theophilus - Feb 11, 2011 at 8:02 PM

    N-Cog — You can tell it's Friday because DFL didn't take his Elevil this morning?I hesitate to get into this food fight over the unknowable but I need to stick up for Livan. Last year he was healthy for the first time in at least five years. He is very much like another soft-bodied Cuban, Luis Tiant, who lasted 18 seasons (until he was 41) and won 229 games. In his last full season (age 39) he was 13-8 over 190+ innings. Hernandez — assuming no major injuries — will finish his career with somewhere close to 200 wins. The unfortunate part is that the Nats will probably pack him off to some team that needs another starter to make a pennant run. Maybe they'll be able to sign him after the season for a third time. For right now, Riggleman wonders who his starter in the other 129 games is going to be.

  34. John C. - Feb 11, 2011 at 8:04 PM

    It's a pretty pathetic individual that needs to attack someone else to feel better about himself or herself. That also translates to baseball fandoms – it's just pathetic for O's fans and Nats fans to holler about how crappy the "other" team is. As a Nats fan I have nothing against the O's particularly, except for Angelos and hollering during the National Anthem. I think the 2011 O's may well be better than the 2011 Nationals (if the Nationals played in the AL they'd have re-signed Dunn), but long term I think the Nationals are better off: better young talent, better minor league system, and aren't permanently blocked from the playoffs. But it would never occur to me to go on an O's blog and trash talk their team.

  35. JD - Feb 11, 2011 at 8:04 PM

    10 things that get the Nats to .5001)JZim emulates Latos and becomes a legit no. 12)Chein regains 80% of his form and slides in at no. 23)Marquis regains his 09 1st half form; has a great 1st half and gets traded for prospects at the trading deadline.4)Lannan maintains reasonable (4.00) era and holds on as a legit no. 4 starter.5)Gorzo & Livo do enough as an entry to at least be a legit no. 5 starter.6)Detwiler fills the spot left open by the Marquis trade and is a bona fide no. 3.7)Stammen successfully steps into the Batista role.8) Clippard is not worked to death and maintains his effectiveness throughout the year.9) Storen steps into the closer's role succsesfully.10) Bernadina takes a leap forward and is a legit major league hitter.OK a couple more:11) Morgan regains his form, his composure and his sanity.12) Espinosa is the real deal.13) Desmond discovers the benefit of working the count.14) Riggleman is ordered to avoid working his entire bench and bullpen until at least the 7th inning.could happen,

  36. Mr. NATural - Feb 11, 2011 at 8:13 PM

    Mark,You said: "Let's get this out of the way: No, LaRoche is not as good (or as consistent) as Adam Dunn at the plate. Everyone knows that, and no one expects the new first baseman to fill his predecessor's large shoes."I disagree. I keep telling friends these two stats on Dunn vs. LaRoche:Versus lefties: Dunn hit .199, LaRoche hit .264RISP and 2 outs: Dunn hit .169, Laroche hit .274I liked Dunn. If you were up 5 runs or down 5 runs he would hit a homer. But he reeked against lefties and consistently watched third strikes with runners on base, or RISP and 2 outs. We are better off with LaRoche.

  37. Nattydread - Feb 11, 2011 at 8:43 PM

    "If you were up 5 runs or down 5 runs he would hit a homer. But he reeked against lefties and consistently watched third strikes with runners on base, or RISP and 2 outs. We are better off with LaRoche."________Phil Wood and Rizzo agree with Mr. NATural.

  38. Theophilus - Feb 11, 2011 at 8:47 PM

    I'm w/ Mr. Nat — I thought Dunn was better in 2010 than 2009. I thought he started more rallies, was in the middle of more things — but when it came to finishing things he was awful. The RISP nos. were just horrible. Runs Produced for Dunn and LaRoche were exactly the same — which means that when runners were on base LaRoche delivered better than Dunn.Dunn will do well in Chicago. Big HR guys (Luzinski, Kittle, Konerko) have done well in that park (ugly as it is). But their histories don't suggest the Nats are going to suffer any major fall off w/ LaRoche.

  39. Sunderland - Feb 11, 2011 at 8:53 PM

    I completely agree with Mr. NATural. Dunn is of little value in important at bats. The reason his numbers with RISP are so poor is not cause he chokes, it's cause he can't hit lefties, and when there's an important AB with RISP, in comes a LOOGY and down goes Dunn.

  40. JamesFan - Feb 11, 2011 at 9:37 PM

    Dunn had bigh recognizable weaknesses in his swing. It won't take long before the AL discovers that Dunn can't touch a low, inside slider, especially from a lefty, when the pressure is on. He'll get his 40 homers, but not in pressure situations. Rizzo was right to move him.

  41. Another_Sam - Feb 11, 2011 at 9:51 PM

    Theo – I'm with you on Livan. I hope he's got a ton of incentives and that he makes 'em all. By objective (and also by sentimental) measures he's the ace of this staff. And to all who are counting on Lannan: dream on; after all it's spring.. LOL

  42. Nick - Feb 11, 2011 at 10:28 PM

    DFL: 37 is lowballing Dunn at Comerica. He'll hit 45-50 hitting with Konerko (.312/.394/.583) behind him.

  43. Johnny - Feb 11, 2011 at 11:06 PM

    I see that Francisco Lariano could become available from the Twins. Do you think Rizzo would make that move? What would the Nats have to give up?

  44. WhatsaNattaU - Feb 12, 2011 at 12:16 AM

    I predict Morse and Bernadina both have more plate appearances than Morgan.I predict Maya makes more MLB starts than Marquis.And I predict Ramos starts more games than Pudge.

  45. Anonymous - Feb 12, 2011 at 12:36 AM

    Hmmmm my take still is: If Milone pitches well they trade Lannan. InApril/May. Hopefully other packaged for another starter or themissing lead off guy. Buy low, sell high. Livo goes to the bullpenas long relief (let's face it he's the only guy they've got whotruly has an old school rubber arm not Stammen or Gozelanny Larson! ) and Pudge to the bench. Corey Brown is even moreripped than Zim making him jealous. And sending Morgan toa utility role. Bottom line: Nats break .500 if Rizzo has to drag them himself.

  46. yankish2 - Feb 12, 2011 at 1:05 AM

    Nick…Dunn plays at US Cellular Park. The Tigers play at Comerica.

  47. JayB - Feb 12, 2011 at 1:22 AM

    Nice work Jimbo….Dukes used pot while playing at Nats Park…what a surprise……..wonder how Steven from Capitol Hill would spin this…Steven loved to find blame with fans who worried about these things…..He used to blame everyone but Dukes for Duke's decisions…..So while our team was losing 300 games in 3 years at least someone was cool with it. Yes things are finally getting better…..way way later than it should have.

  48. Theophilus - Feb 12, 2011 at 1:52 AM

    Dukes story gives Mark's recent piece about Rizzo's overhaul of the roster another dimension. Dukes doesn't have much credibility but I looked at the 2008 and 2009 rosters and can imagine some of underachievers passing a joint around. Exaggerated, probably, but not beyond belief. Where it also sheds light is on Acta's control of the clubhouse — more correctly, the lack thereof. With his inexperience as a manager, there was always the sense that some of the players were taking advantage of him. If I were in the Cleveland front office, they'd be passing out sterilized Mason jars on the first day of Spring Training.

  49. JayB - Feb 12, 2011 at 2:05 AM

    You're right stephen always said we were wrong about Acta too……..he was never the Problem it was always the fans would make up problems with his cubhouse and leadership…..acta was a huge part of the pro lem._

  50. Anonymous - Feb 12, 2011 at 4:02 AM

    Mark:You forgot about Screech! He's a sure thing!

  51. JayB - Feb 12, 2011 at 12:05 PM

    Reading the stories coming out of Wpost and Tampa papers about Dukes, Rijo, Acta's best Friend, Smiley…..Stan and Jimbo's forced union……just the tip of the ice berg I am sure… many of us were spot on…so many in the editors were asleep or putting yet another reporter on the Skins beat. Those of you who have put up with me for years know I was spot on from 2007 forward on many of these topics…..Not that it was hard to see now or then…..but also know this when you feel like I am too negative on Rizzo and the "new Nats"…..well that negativity was earned by Mark Lerner and Ted Lerner. So many posters were right about Acta, Jimbo, Stan wanting to fire Jimbo from day one, Penny wise spending and dishonest spins of failure to follow through on promises to build the farm and player development system. So many media members took the easy way out and just reported the Spin not the reality. That is why I want to see wins to prove things have changed…Nothing else counts and when they come, I will be the first to say this team has turned the corner….Until then they are still the worst run team in baseball period. They have earned it to date.

  52. Sunderland - Feb 12, 2011 at 12:37 PM

    "Until then they are still the worst run team in baseball period."There are hordes of people in New York, Seattle, Baltimore, Kansas City, Pittsburgh, and Phoenix that would argue that point with you.And if you look at the four major sports teams in DC, the Nats are probably the 2nd best run team here. It ain't hard to foul up a sports franchise.

  53. JayB - Feb 12, 2011 at 12:53 PM

    I did not say Sports….I said Baseball and they are much worse in my view than the only true contenders on your short PIT and KC list Sunderland………BALT has been doing what Nats said they pretended they to do….they hired a real GM and a real manager before Nats did and they spent money successfully this off season to put a respectable product on the field until the farm pays off….they just have to toughest DIV in baseball to play in or you would see the record improve even more……NYM, AZ, SEA…they all have won recently and have functioning systems…..Nats still can not do DR or any international FA work correctly…."Major INTL signing:, Martin from Mex….come on….Until they win more than they lose they are who their record says they are. PITT AND KC…they have much better International and US scouting and Player Development systems…if they had some money they would be miles ahead…they are not poorly run they are poorly capitalized by their markets. PIT traded Morgan for Milledge which then cut Milledge saying he was not worth the $400K. It is close though with PIT but we still plan to give Major AB's to none baseball players like Morgan while they are Milledge free……..tells you something.

  54. JayB - Feb 12, 2011 at 1:11 PM

    Oh and as noted by someone here recently…exactly one year ago I was the one asking about Dukes's work ethic and failure to to come to camp early after walking away from his Winter Ball contract….you all were killing me for pointing out the obvious problem of going into Spring Training with Dukes as the starter……Get ready for more of the same with Morgan….will Rizzo never learn?

  55. Anonymous - Feb 12, 2011 at 1:30 PM

    I love Zim. The only thing that bothers me though is that little underhand flip throw he has. He throws more balls away because of it. Get on top of it Zim!

  56. JayB - Feb 12, 2011 at 1:42 PM

    Strangely enough….and from some personal experience….side arm is a much easier and consistent throw….MLB Network and Zim himself have both talked about this exact throw this past year……trouble for Zim is the distance he needs to get on that throw and the need to get ride of the ball fast….very fast in many cases…SS and 2B can do it all day long on ball they charge…Zimm too but when he is deep and ball is hit so hard he does not charge……that side arm throw causes him problems….but not as much as when he goes up top… telling where it goes then.

  57. JayB - Feb 12, 2011 at 2:25 PM

    ABM…nice call on trying to compare Dukes and Milledge behaviors and work ethic in Spring Training 2009 that I pointed out to Ken G. Jr… always try to make people sound so bad but in the end you are just a wrong as the days you tried to say Stan would not leave, Acta had control of the clubhouse, Lerners were not cheap, Jimbo and Stan had a great working relationship….Milledge was working hard and making progress in CF…..the list of your wrongs is endless….sure I am wrong too but your just say the opposite of what posters say…I think about it, apply what I know and what I have learned in a life time of playing, coaching and learning from others….you…just like to hate.

  58. Anonymous - Feb 12, 2011 at 3:24 PM

    The only thing about JayB that is spot on is his underpants.

  59. JayB - Feb 12, 2011 at 3:26 PM

    truth hurts ABM…and again so mature

  60. TMI, dude - Feb 12, 2011 at 4:18 PM

    JayB, you really didn't need to tell us what that spot in your pants is. We could have figured it out. Although I'm sure you're quite proud of it.

  61. Dad - Feb 12, 2011 at 6:37 PM

    Hey, you kids! Knock it off.

  62. Sec 204 Row H Seat 7 - Feb 13, 2011 at 1:06 PM

    The NATS dropped from the Number One Pick (two years in a row) to what Number Five this years. They will drop lower this season and will once again pick behind the Orioles. 79 wins (subject to revision after ST before OD).Sec 204 Row H Seat 7





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