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How many bullpen spots available?

Feb 27, 2011, 2:50 PM EST

Photo by Mark Zuckerman / NATS INSIDER
Tyler Clippard is assured of a spot in the Opening Day bullpen.

VIERA, Fla. — We're nearly two weeks into camp now and the Nationals are still waiting for one of their key offseason acquisitions to arrive.

Henry Rodriguez, the flamethrowing right-hander picked up from the A's in the Josh Willingham trade, has been stuck in Venezeula waiting for visa issues to be sorted out. It appeared he'd be arriving several days ago, but his locker remains empty.

According to Jim Riggleman, Rodriguez is now slated to report on Tuesday. Once he arrives, Rodriguez will try to catch up with the rest of the staff, throwing a couple of bullpen sessions, a live BP session or two and maybe appear in a minor-league instrasquad game before debuting against big-league hitters.

The other hard-throwing reliever who had been delayed by visa problems, Elvin Ramirez, has been in camp since Thursday and has thrown in the bullpen twice now. Riggleman and other team officials have liked what they've seen from the Rule 5 draftee, who has exhibitedRead more »

  1. joemktg - Feb 27, 2011 at 3:03 PM

    Based on Mark's appearance on 980 yesterday in response to Galdi's question regarding Visa status, the Nats know what Rodriguez has been doing. But jeez: fly someone down there to monitor his workouts and report back first hand. It's not as if Rodriguez is on Mars. If it's that important, grab the passport and the RT ticket.

  2. JayB - Feb 27, 2011 at 3:10 PM

    I think we are going to see trade here soon….Clippard seems ripe for a trade. I also see a trade of the first Starting pitcher not named Zimnn who looks strong….Jason M and 5 Million to the Cards….Lannan to the Cards…….I also see Pudge and $ traded by June. Those guys are all sell high types or salary paid for moves.

  3. SpotsyNats - Feb 27, 2011 at 3:21 PM

    Mark,Appreciate the diligence on the beat. Any news on radio deals and broadcasts dates from ST?Thanks again.

  4. Kenz aFan - Feb 27, 2011 at 3:25 PM

    Isn't starting the year with eight relievers also a possibility? After all, the Nats wont need their firth starter until April 10th, .which would give them an extra ten days or so to decide on who to keep.Since Zimmermann still has options, I think it's a no brainer and starting the season with five starters is wasting a roster spot. Keeping that 5th starter would mean that he has to sit around getting by with bullpen sessions and simulated games.And Stammen and Gaudin are not the only pitchers who fit that bill. If the Nats choose to start the year with a four man rotation of Hernandez, Lannan, Zimmermann and Marquis, then Gorzelanny would also fit into that long man mold.Mark, I have a question I'd love for you to ask of the Nats if you get the chance. What happens and who becomes the odd man (or men) out, if Maya, Gorzelanny, Detwiler, Wang and Gaudin, along with the four starters mentioned above all pitch more than well enough to have earned a spot on the opening day roster? It wouldn't seem fair to sent most of then to Syracuse?I'd love to know, because I'm sure I'm not the only Nats fan who wants the best players breaking camp and heading north with the team.

  5. natsfan1a - Feb 27, 2011 at 3:25 PM

    Team ST broadcast info is here:

  6. natsfan1a - Feb 27, 2011 at 3:28 PM

    MLB Network broadcast schedule is here (note delay times for airing of some games):

  7. Theophilus - Feb 27, 2011 at 3:33 PM

    I can't fathom why (A) they signed Coffey in the first place; (B) they are paying him more than $7.25/hour; (C) everyone is conceding him a roster spot. A pitcher w/ his lifetime "achievements" would be lucky if a ML team allowed him to push an ice cream cart around the concourse.

  8. Anonymous - Feb 27, 2011 at 3:38 PM

    Trading Coffey to an AL team might also be a possibility. Perhaps along with other relievers. He looks to be in the worst shape of all the pitchers and given Rizzo's thinking along those lines … he would be someone you would want to cut loose early.

  9. Theophilus - Feb 27, 2011 at 3:39 PM

    Ditto for Gaudin, tho I don't see any public campaign for him post 3/31.

  10. Theophilus - Feb 27, 2011 at 3:46 PM

    The problem w/ making trades at this time of year is most teams have plenty of their own junque in camp and don't need any more spare parts in their inventory. You have to try to imagine a team that is a borderline contender that says, "That guy Coffey is just the piece I need to complete my bullpen." And is afraid that when the Nats cut Coffey he'll sign up with the Pirates, Royals or Yakult Swallows. Unfortunately almost every team has a half-dozen career minor leaguers who can do exactly what Coffey can do, i.e., get lit up like a lamp.

  11. Anonymous - Feb 27, 2011 at 3:52 PM

    Boz recounts in his own imitable way:"He's probably going to hit me," Werth said to Rizzo as they watched Drew Storen warm up to throw batting practice. "If he does, I'll like him even more."Once Werth got back behind the cage, Rizzo said, "I hate the [expletive] Phillies." The GM then ran off a list of borderline dirty plays and purpose pitches in recent years by the Nats' nemesis. "I hate the Phillies, too," said Werth. Unspoken, but hanging in the air was a new idea for the Nats: So, let's play more like the Phillies: mean, grimy and a little nasty.If anything like this came from the mouth Riggleman I'd reconsider my opinion about him. As it is gentleman Jim has been here for three glorious years of last place finishes …

  12. JayB - Feb 27, 2011 at 3:58 PM

    Yanks and Cards both would take Jason M with Cash , Livo or John Lannan today. Good News is finally this Nats are heading in a new direction. Power Arms not soft tossing over achievers who are just happy to be on a roster somewhere. I for one will be happy to see these types be traded for prospects.

  13. SCNatsFan - Feb 27, 2011 at 4:00 PM

    You see how a guys arm can go in a year so I have no problem with Rizzo stocking the bullpen with "too many arms". One things is for sure, if all the starters/relievers pan out (I know a highly unlikely scenario) then trading talented pieces for our needs is a problem I'd love for Rizzo to have, same as if Flores is healthy. For once we might actually have too much MLB talent on our roster and I can't believe some are complaing about it! I would love it if we became the team other teams came calling upon late in ST because their players weren't meeting expectations.I'm more interested in Mark's thoughts on the 2 rule 5 guys; doesn't seem there are spots for them, and with the Cards losing Wainwright I can't see them giving away any starters who might help at any time this year. Any idea what type of player we would have to give up for them to secure them in our system?Thanks for all the great ST posts, wish I was there. I hate how this thing called a job keeps getting in the way of what I want to do :)

  14. Jimmy - Feb 27, 2011 at 4:00 PM

    If Rizzo hates the Phillies, Why do we use their colors and dress like them?

  15. JayB - Feb 27, 2011 at 4:01 PM

    2 last place finishes right? He was new to Acta's staff in 2009 after Acta lost all his buddies after that 2008 underachievement season….Riggs has half of 2009 and all of 2010 and a whole career of losing elsewhere to bring to the 2011 party.

  16. Anonymous - Feb 27, 2011 at 4:05 PM

    Unfortunately almost every team has a half-dozen career minor leaguers who can do exactly what Coffey can do, i.e., get lit up like a lamp.Rizzo had no problem at all with releasing Brian Bruney … and by all accounts he had better stuff? And he didn't wait until after the all-star break. A lot of this is one Riggleman and McCatty who must be sure they are taking the best pitching staff back with them. No holds barred. Its one thing to pick a guy with no options because he is either slightly ahead or even with the others he is competing with. Its quite another to pick an inferior pitcher just because he might have seen more major league action. They need guys who can take down the Phillies not place holders.

  17. JayB - Feb 27, 2011 at 4:09 PM

    Mark, Why do you let ABM post here? We all know who he is no matter which one of 100 Signons he uses….I would think the personal attacks he lives to make would be something you and your new employers would want to move away from?Anonymous said… There's the great JayB, posting stoned again. Do you travel with your stash down to Viera, JayB, or have you found a dealer there? How do prices compare there and here?

  18. Anonymous - Feb 27, 2011 at 4:10 PM

    If Rizzo hates the Phillies, Why do we use their colors and dress like them?You need to discuss that with Mark Lerner. Perhaps he likes being ostentatious … perhaps he watched Iron Man I too many times? They probably do need to throw in some blue … the red for red maple leaf harkens back to the Canadian flag.

  19. Piero - Feb 27, 2011 at 4:19 PM

    Mark, Why do you let ABM post here? We all know who he is no matter which one of 100 Signons he usesNot any worst than P00py_McP00p the rabid Ori'holes fan, who was Poopy_McPoop until he got banned I suppose … Its best to just ignore it JayB.

  20. Anonymous - Feb 27, 2011 at 4:22 PM

    Still hoping Rizzo works a deal with Tampa Bay for another starter. They still do have a surplus going … but I guess everyone has to get a good gauge on what they have internally first … and the Nats do seem to have a lot of potential top arms this year … just have to see how it all plays out at the end of spring training and into the season …

  21. Noirelune - Feb 27, 2011 at 4:22 PM

    I totally agree with Theophilus. I don't believe Coffey and Gaudin have a secured position with the Nationals. They are insurance policies, not fixtures. And they will have to perform well if they want to have a place on the roster.I also agree with JayB. The Nats have enough depth to trade a starting picher to the Cards or to the Yankees.Franco From QuebecApology for my english

  22. Anonymous - Feb 27, 2011 at 4:27 PM

    JayB is so stoned that he can incorrectly remember with precision what others didn't say years ago, yet he can't remember where he put his laptop six days a week.

  23. Doc - Feb 27, 2011 at 4:34 PM

    From Werth's recent BP converstation with Storen, it looks like the ex-Phillie is already spreading some Phillie attitude. On the national baseball fan scale,Phillie winning seems to be more popular than Nats' losing. Spit and vinegar will never come from Riggleman, so it's up to the players kick some tail, both between the white lines, and in the club house!

  24. JaneB - Feb 27, 2011 at 5:21 PM

    Seriously guys. Lay off attacking each other! If you're going to spew venom, aim it toward the City of Brotherly (no) Love. Let's tawk baseball.

  25. Mark Zuckerman - Feb 27, 2011 at 5:21 PM

    Folks, can we please refrain from the personal attacks against other posters? Debate each other all you want, but take the name-calling and mudslinging elsewhere, please.

  26. Sunderland - Feb 27, 2011 at 5:36 PM

    Cole Kimball is going to be a tough call for Rizzo and Riggs. He's good enough for sure, ready enough for sure, lots of upside. But he also has options, and so he's likely going to be in Syracuse in April and up in DC when the first couple guys falter.Also, what is better for the Nats and for the players? For Ballester or Stammen to make the big club in the bullpen, or for both of them to remain starters in Syracuse? I'd rather see them both take another shot and showing value as a starter.And I'm sure we start the season with 4 starters. I'm just not sure if the extra body is a bullpen arm or a bat like Stairs.

  27. JayB - Feb 27, 2011 at 5:38 PM

    Thank you Mark…it is too bad one person has to tar the whole group like this.

  28. JD - Feb 27, 2011 at 5:50 PM

    JayB, If throwing hard was the only criteria Daniel Cabrerra would be in the HOF and Greg Maddox, Tom Glavine and Brandon Webb would not have won Cy Young awards. I noticed in your posts that you are totally fixated on MPH; this is a very simplistic way to look at pitching. Cliff Lee is not a hard thrower, Halladay lives in the low 90's and on and on and on. Pitching is all about command and control not just throwing the ball through a wall.

  29. Wally - Feb 27, 2011 at 5:52 PM

    Mark, NatsJack and anyone else down there with 'eyes' on the ground, a few Qs:Any tick up in Lannan's velocity with the added weight? (I know there probably aren't radar guns yet, just asking what your eyes are seeing)How does Stamman look? he added a few mphs last year, and curious whether it is holding.Does Mock seem like he is over the neck thing?Any observations on how Gorzy looks?Like JayB, I also thought of Marquis-to-Cards when Wainwright went down. Also, Mets always seemed like a fit, given his LI roots and their rotation needs. The problem, I think, is that even with the Nats kicking in $5m, he doesn't bring back much, so he probably looks better to the Nats where he is. Kind of like the Hammer last season. For whatever it is worth, I think that he has a bounceback season in 2011.

  30. Theophilus - Feb 27, 2011 at 6:06 PM

    If Marquis truly is having a "bounceback" season then there will be a market for him, of sorts, by July. The problem is, even if he is having a good year, his injury history and soon-to-expire contract won't yield much. You're talking about having to throw in money to make someone take him? What kind of minor league prospect is that going to bring? If the Nats deal Marquis at mid-season it will likely be to (A) dump salary and (B) break-up the logjam in front of someone (like Detweiler) who might be around for 2-3 years. And maybe get a marginal minor leaguer or two as in the Guzman deal. Now, if someone was bold/desperate enough to deal from him before Opening Day, there might be reason to hope for something better.

  31. Anonymous - Feb 27, 2011 at 6:22 PM

    My take is still that Lannan probably has the most value and he comes with upside. His contract isn't egregious the way Marquis's is and he can eat innings for a club like St. Louis or the NYY. He also has NY/NJ roots. But even with him you would have to throw in an additional position player, reliever and perhaps starter to get something of value back.Nevertheless, he makes the most abundant amount of sense and JayB inferred but not for the reasons he gives. Tom Milone, left handed organization pitcher of the year should also be in Syracuse. He may be a far better version of John Lannan and is now 24. Behind him is runner up for Organization Pitcher of the year lefty Danny Rosenbaum. He should be in Harrisburg this year. In other words there may be better / younger replacements for innings eaters and #4/#5 starter types like Lannan, Livo and Marquis. If Detwiler and Gorzelanny show as the power pitcher starters they project to be, then there may no longer be a spot for John Lannan? Doubtless he would inevitably be followed by Marquis. In the case of Livo he is the perfect rubber-armed Miguel Batista replacement. Let all the others vie for the five starting slots.

  32. Edward J. Cunningham - Feb 27, 2011 at 6:32 PM

    @Noire LuneDes excuses sont inutiles. Your English is far better than our French. (Damn iPad won't let me type "franca_is" >:-(. )

  33. rmoore446 - Feb 27, 2011 at 6:33 PM

    Thanks Mark for calling down the personal attacks by this particular "anonymous" poster. It is completely out-of-bounds not to mention idiotic.On a positive note, I'm listening to my first radio broadcast of the year, today's Mets-Braves exhibition game. I do love this game so!!

  34. BinM - Feb 27, 2011 at 6:40 PM

    The bullpen, lacking any ST trades looks to have Storen, Burnett & Clippard assured of a 25-man spot; Slaten (in a LH specialist role) would make it four. From here, it's a process of elimination…With two LH relievers already on the roster (Burnett & Slaten), Severino most likely gets optioned. Since Storen, Burnett & Clippard can all throw late innings, there are probably only 1-2 slots open for middle-relief roles: Balester, Carr, Coffey, Kimball, Ramirez, Rodriguez, and possibly Mattheus & Wilkie will battle for those slots. My best guess (as of now) is that Carr & Kimball get optioned, Ramirez gets sent back to the Mets, and Mattheus & Wilkie get assigned to the minors, leaving Balester, Coffey, & Rodriguez. Rodriguez is behind everyone else due to visa problems, but Balester has an option left, so I'd guess Coffey & Rodriguez make the team. The Long-relief/spot starter slot holds Gorzelanny, Stammen & Gaudin. If Gorzelanny stumbles out of the rotation, he'll fill the slot, with Stammen getting optioned. Gaudin is a long-shot at best. The team has some possible pieces that may be moved before Spring Training ends, but that requires trading partners. We'll see if something emerges as we move toward Opening Day.

  35. BinM - Feb 27, 2011 at 7:03 PM

    peric @ 1:22: Again, while Lannan might slot nicely as a #4-5SP with the Yankees, who should Rizzo ask for in return; Joba? Probably not going to happen. More likely an initial offer of someone like Igawa or the likes of Madrigal or another 24-26yo 'prospect'; Cashman has played this game before. As to a possible Cardinals deal, I've already weighed in on that, and think that Mozeliak will hold off before making any deal.

  36. Anonymous - Feb 27, 2011 at 8:04 PM

    Sticking to baseball would be great. That is what I like about NI–informed opinions and good debate. I left WaPo and NJ because of the personal atacks (on others). Who needs 'em?fpcsteve

  37. Anonymous - Feb 27, 2011 at 9:26 PM

    Yes please. Let's eliminate personal attacks and misrepresentations of what others say in order to ridicule them. Like these instances:JayB said…Wang's fast ball looks every bit as good as Livo…..come on Mark….I'm trying to stay positive this month but really?….Livo?JayB said…Mark, Why do you let ABM post here? We all know who he is no matter which one of 100 Signons he usesJayB said…Glad to see others take note of the problem and Rizzo's solution…..People Like Steven@Capital Hill, Mark and Ben G have long discounted the need for this attitude change in favor of WAR Stats and K ratio's.Near as I can tell, ABM and Steven@CapitalHill have never posted here, and Mark and Ben G certainly are not champions of WAR and other newfangled stats. They just report the facts. Yet JayB rails against and attacks all these people on a regular basis.

  38. BinM - Feb 27, 2011 at 9:38 PM

    I suppose team Zuckerman could ultimately close the 'Anonymous' posting option; That's one restrictive option, forcing everyone to a "nom-de-plume" that most posters here adhere to anyway. Just a guess.

  39. Anonymous - Feb 27, 2011 at 10:26 PM

    OK, how do you do that (i.e., the name thing)? I'd be glad to have someone walk me through the mechanics of that. I think BinM's suggestion is a useful corrective.fpcsteve

  40. hondo69 - Feb 27, 2011 at 11:03 PM

    fpcsteve — Follow these simple steps to post with your handle:1)Go to "Select Profile" at the bottom of the comment box and click on the pulldown menu2)Click on "Name/URL" and type your handle on the "Name" line and click on "Continue"You're ready to type your post and have effectively avoided going the "Anonymous" route.

  41. fpcsteve - Feb 28, 2011 at 12:14 AM

    Thanks, hondo69. Got it, I think.

  42. fpcsteve - Feb 28, 2011 at 12:19 AM

    next question: what do you do to avoid hitting "post comment" 3 or 4 times to get published? suggestions?

  43. Anonymous - Feb 28, 2011 at 12:52 AM

    What's the 'problem' with posting Anonymous? The rest of you guys, even though you use a 'handle' are anonymous too. I have no clue who BinM is. That sounds like 'anonymity' to me. And how do you know I'm not BinM, anyway? I'm putting the strange 'single quotes' around random 'expressions' just like he does…





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