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Beltway Baseball Live – 8/17/11

Aug 17, 2011, 2:00 PM EDT

In the latest edition of Beltway Baseball, Chase Hughes and I discussed this week's draft signing deadline, Stephen Strasburg's impending return from Tommy John surgery and Danny Espinosa's second-half slump. We also answered your questions on Michael Morse, Rick Ankiel and Chien-Ming Wang.

The show aired live at 1 p.m., but if you missed it, no worries. Here is the full show, split into two segments. Part 2 is below the jump…
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  1. Water23 - Aug 17, 2011 at 2:28 PM

    Mark,Who do you think is the team MVP? Mike Morse seems to be doing everything asked, Zimnn is really anchoring the Staff but Clippard and Storen do all that is asked on the back end.Maybe there could be some awards for end of year performance? Markies? Zucks?

  2. Grandstander - Aug 17, 2011 at 2:36 PM

    Rick Ankiel has been pretty solid lately, vastly over-performing his career numbers. What do you think are the chances he sustains this? Is he our everyday CF for the rest of the season?

  3. Nats Outsider - Aug 17, 2011 at 2:40 PM

    Morse seems to really enjoy playing first base. He looks relaxed and like he's having fun. Do you think his response to moving there has contributed to his hitting as well?And the other side of the same question: Is there a chance that moving back to left field next year might affect his comfort and production? (Follow-up: Adam LaRoche is superior defensivly at first base, but — just in case — could he play any other position?

  4. NatStat - Aug 17, 2011 at 2:41 PM

    My question has to do with Espi's bat. What does he need to be doing to cut down the Ks and start putting up some good numbers. Only 1 HR since the ASB. What do Davey and Eck think??We're all rooting for him!Also, as noted by other posters, let's put some votes for NatsInsider on the CBS Washington Most Valuable Blogger Awards 2011.Vote early, and vote often!

  5. Anonymous - Aug 17, 2011 at 3:00 PM

    Do you think Chien Ming Wang will replace Livan Hernandez in the rotation in 2012, and if so, how much money will it take to keep him? Farid Rushdi – Pocatello ID

  6. Brian - Aug 17, 2011 at 3:14 PM

    What is the latest from the Nationals efforts in Latin America? They did not appear to be players during the July signing period. Have they re-established their foundation yet?

  7. FS - Aug 17, 2011 at 3:17 PM

    1. I think 3 starters are definitely part of our rotation, Strasburg, Zimmermann, and Lannan. What do you see Nationals do for other two spots? a) minor leaguers (peacock, milone) or b) veteran free agents (livo, wang, e. jackson, buehrle, etc).2. Who do you like roaming CF in 2012?3. What are the negative effects of breaking up Desi-Danny combo and bringing up Lombo to play second while Espy moves over to SS?Thank you.

  8. jeff550 - Aug 17, 2011 at 3:19 PM

    Do you see Milone replacing LIvo in the rotation when September comes? also could you see us going with a 6 man rotation to make room for Peacock if he can bild on his last AAA start. One last question, Do you think they will protec Brad Meyers from the Rule V draft, as he has been great when healty at both AA, and hes got his AAA ERA down in the low 3's

  9. Section 222 - Aug 17, 2011 at 3:45 PM

    My question has to do with the plan for Strasburg next year. Shouldn't the Nats consider limiting him to 5 or 6 innings per start in order to have him pitch later into the year before reaching his 160 inning limit? (Davey's preference for having a few long relievers in the bullpen would make this easier to pull off as well.) Having SS into September, instead of shut down at the end of August as Znn will be, would be a real advantage if we're in the hunt for a Wild Card spot.

  10. Steve M. - Aug 17, 2011 at 3:46 PM

    Mark, besides the leadoff spot, what area of the team do you see as the greatest weakness for 2012? Bullpen, Bench, Starting Rotation, the offensive demise of Danny Espinosa, Jayson Werth's low BA, the countdown to Free Agency for Ryan Zimmerman, ability to compete in Free Agency…

  11. PAY TO PLAY - Aug 17, 2011 at 3:58 PM

    Ryan Zimmerman last night said, "Four is obviously important, but I think for it to be really important, you need a five guy. Jayson has been having better at-bats. His average is whatever, but he's starting to drive the ball a little bit more – hit some home runs, hit some doubles like he did tonight. Having a guy behind you, and then another guy, is key. Jayson's here for a long time, and I'm here for a couple more years, as of now. Mike has some time left, too. It'd be a good group to kind of keep together, I think."Now I'm not sure if Zim is talking Five Guys Burgers & Fries or the guy hitting 2 after him. He seems very cognizant of the fact that he is a Free Agent in 2 years and 42 games and hopefully some Post Season games.Mark, isn't Zim's contract extension a must for the off-season?

  12. Mark'd - Aug 17, 2011 at 4:05 PM

    It seems popular on Nats Insider that the team get their CF thru Free Agency as well as a veteran lefty starter.2 names keep popping up, Coco Crisp and Mark Buehrle. What do you think the Nats chances are of landing them? What about re-signing Wang?

  13. Anonymous - Aug 17, 2011 at 4:21 PM

    How do we fix Danny Espinosa? is he a lock for next year or does Lombardozzi have a chance to beat him out if Lombo shows a good glove?How do we fix Danny? He finished ice cold last year and is heading ice cold to end this year. He's actually showed two brief hot streaks last year and this, surrounded by months of horrible K filled slumps. Why is he so untouchable? If he's going to continue to hit sub .200 for months at a time, we have to consider upgrading there no matter how much we like his attitude,defense, and streaky power.

  14. Anonymous - Aug 17, 2011 at 4:31 PM

    Actually i think Espinsa is trending to a good candidate for a infield backup-defensive replacement role. Also.. Mark, what is the chance the FO will ever admit a mistake on one of their favorite teacher's pet players, rather than make excuse for them while they kill rally after rally? Will they have the cajones to sit or marginalize Desi, Espi, Laroche or Werth if they continue to underperform next year?

  15. Feel Wood - Aug 17, 2011 at 4:34 PM

    Everyone seems to think that moving Morse back to left field will mess him up, simply because he struggled at the plate when he was the everyday left fielder in April and didn't really take off until he was pulled out of the left field platoon out of necessity to take over at first base for LaRoche. They attribute his improvement to playing first base instead of left field, when really it probably has more to do with knowing he'd be playing every day. Playing left field didn't seem to hurt him offensively when he was tearing it up in spring training and winning the full-time job, did it? Then he hits a slump at the start of the season as many "established" players such as Zimmerman, LaRoche, Werth, etc have been known to do. But instead of letting Morse play his way out of that slump as he would do with the "established" guys, Riggleman bumped him back into the platoon – where he might well still be sitting today had LaRoche not gone down for the season. Morse seems to be the type of player who thrives by playing every day, no matter the position. (Put me in, coach, I'm ready to play.) Davey's giving him that affirmation, while Riggleman never did. No matter how well Morse did, there was always the chance that Riggleman would pull him – like in a double switch after he'd hit two homers in the game. With Davey, though, he knows that he's gonna be in there somewhere and he doesn't have to worry if he happens to hit a slump now and then.

  16. Joe Seamhead - Aug 17, 2011 at 4:52 PM

    Only time will tell who the real winners are going to be with the 2011 draft, though many experts feel the the Pirates were the potentially most improved team. How do you see it?Also, do you see Matt Purke as being in the "can't miss" class?

  17. Anonymous - Aug 17, 2011 at 4:59 PM

    Mark, I've kept a close eye on Nats prospect Jhonatan Solano since his championship MVP days in Potomac. He will never be looked at as a starting catcher in the majors, but he has the perfect skill set for a backup catcher with an OK bat and stellar defense. I've followed his season in Syracuse this year and he was putting up better numbers than Jesus Flores when he was called up. I know he's not on the 40 man roster but do you think there's a chance we see Jhonatan in DC when rosters expand? I would like to see the team give him a look. Thank you, Mark. Keep up the great work.

  18. flynnie321 - Aug 17, 2011 at 5:24 PM

    For your jollification, from Ladson, 1/18/2011:As for Morse, terms of the agreement were not disclosed. Morse made $410,000 last year. He was great coming off the bench and put up nice numbers. However, the Nationals still don't think he is an everyday player — yet. To some members of the club's front office, Morse's swing is too long — and he has problems with the opposing team's best pitchers

  19. jd - Aug 17, 2011 at 5:31 PM

    flynnie321,Ladson has only one weakness in his baseball coverage; he knows nothing about baseball.

  20. Scooter - Aug 17, 2011 at 5:47 PM

    Joe Seamhead said…Also, do you see Matt Purke as being in the "can't miss" class?Sadly, no. He is a pitcher, and those guys just have too many ways to wipe out their careers.(I know you were trying to ask the esteemed Mr. Zuckerman, but them's my thoughts, if you don't mind. I thought it was a fine question and it deserved an answer. My point is that it's a mistake to count on ANY individual pitcher even making it to the bigs.)

  21. flynnie321 - Aug 17, 2011 at 5:47 PM

    Next spring, how do y'all see the starting pitching lining up?1)Strasburg 2)JZimm 3)Lannan 4)& 5) – at least an 11 man fight between Livo (please keep him!); Detwiler; Wang; Stammen; Slaten; HenryRod; Maya; Gorzelanny; Peacock; Milone; Purke (already on major league contract)Have I left anyone out?

  22. Steve M. - Aug 17, 2011 at 5:50 PM

    flynnie321 said… For your jollification, from Ladson, 1/18/2011:As for Morse, terms of the agreement were not disclosed. Morse made $410,000 last year. He was great coming off the bench and put up nice numbers. However, the Nationals still don't think he is an everyday player — yet. To some members of the club's front office, Morse's swing is too long — and he has problems with the opposing team's best pitchers August 17, 2011 1:24 PM In hindsight it is funny but many ran with the last part of that "problems with the opposing team's best pitchers" as their reasoning in the off-season to continue to platoon him but Morse has shown he hits RH pitching well.The Beast is in the Zone.

  23. Anonymous - Aug 17, 2011 at 5:52 PM

    "Ladson has only one weakness in his baseball coverage; he knows nothing about baseball."QFT

  24. Anonymous - Aug 17, 2011 at 5:55 PM

    Scooter said… "Joe Seamhead said…Also, do you see Matt Purke as being in the "can't miss" class?Sadly, no. He is a pitcher, and those guys just have too many ways to wipe out their careers."It's not really a matter of IF they get injured, it's WHEN and HOW BAD.

  25. Steve M. - Aug 17, 2011 at 5:59 PM

    flynnie321 said… Next spring, how do y'all see the starting pitching lining up?1)Strasburg 2)JZimm 3)Lannan 4)& 5) – at least an 11 man fight between Livo (please keep him!); Detwiler; Wang; Stammen; Slaten; HenryRod; Maya; Gorzelanny; Peacock; Milone; Purke (already on major league contract)Have I left anyone out? August 17, 2011 1:47 PM 1) JZim2) Strasburg3) MARK BUEHRLE4) John LannEn5) Wang or MiloneI see Livo as the long man in the bullpen. Wang got the win yesterday and still too early to tell on him but Rizzo likes veterans and Wang has shown potential.To have Buehrle and LannEn going back-to-back as lefties is huge for this team to win more games in the NL East.Hope Detwiler does well tonight but barring some miraculous 7 inning gem, I have never seen consistency and from him which you need as a starter which is why Livo won't be back as a starter. Phil Wood said it last night, "this team no longer needs an innings eater".

  26. Anonymous - Aug 17, 2011 at 6:13 PM

    Steve M. said… 3) MARK BUEHRLEAm I missing something. I didn't MARK BUEHRLE was a Nat.

  27. Anonymous - Aug 17, 2011 at 6:13 PM

    ? know

  28. jd - Aug 17, 2011 at 6:16 PM

    Steve M. My concern about Buehrle is that he will command a crazy salary on the FA market. I don't mind overpaying in dollars but I don't want to give a pitcher a contract longer than 3 years.

  29. Steve M. - Aug 17, 2011 at 6:20 PM

    Hope you all read Tom Boswell's column today titled "Rizzo and the Nats roll the dice on their futures".It has a very positive but cautious twist. So Rizzo says Purke's issue was bursitis. http://www.medicinenet.com/bursitis/article.htmThat sounds like great news. Not sure why we weren't told this weeks ago. They again said Rendon's shoulder injury was "not structural". All in all, sounds like congratulations are in order. We all knew Rizzo and his staff are very good amateur talent evaluators. They have to improve on International signings.In the future, he needs to deal from strength and amateur recruiting is his strength. If he can improve on one area in his domain, it has to be giving up on his prior bad decisions. If it looks like a pig, smells like a pig, and oinks like a pig, it is a pig. You can't put lipstick on a pig and change it. Sean Burnett is leading the Majors in the wrong categories Mr. Rizzo as was Slaten for a while there, no lipstick was going to change Matt Stairs and it won't change the other 2 whether they are under a 2 year contract or not. Problems arise, its how you deal with it that will determine how good you are Mr. Rizzo.

  30. Section 222 - Aug 17, 2011 at 6:21 PM

    Flynnie, I love the old Ladson quote about Morse! A great reminder of how lucky we are that Riggleman is gone. Just think, we could be stuck with that kind of idiotic thinking and doubleswitchitis for not just this year but next year if he hadn't been such a child and had stuck around do to his job. I'm not a DJ syncophant by any means, but at least he recognized what we have in Morse and let the guy play. Now he's a fixture. And I love his postgame interviews with Johny and Ray. A happy and humble guy having a great time playing a game for a living.

  31. Steve M. - Aug 17, 2011 at 6:29 PM

    jd said… Steve M.My concern about Buehrle is that he will command a crazy salary on the FA market. I don't mind overpaying in dollars but I don't want to give a pitcher a contract longer than 3 years. August 17, 2011 2:16 PM I wrote before $60 million over 3 years so we are in agreement for the amount of years. Better to overpay him each year than $18 million for 5 years and waste $30 million.I love spending Mr. Lerner's money. I am hoping the Yankees will be preoccupied with CC and the Red Sox find a way to get in on CC. The Angels are going after Pujols. The Mets, Dodgers and Cubs have no money. The Brewers will be working on keeping Fielder. I expect the White Sox to try to keep him and hopefully he is ready for a change of scenery and a nice payday somewhere else.

  32. Anonymous - Aug 17, 2011 at 6:29 PM

    What is the holdup with giving Solano a chance? If he has great defense how can he be any worse a backup than Flores? We have a team full of 220 to 250 hitters. Why not give anyone who is earning it down there a chance?

  33. NatsJack in Florida - Aug 17, 2011 at 6:32 PM

    Dave Frietas at Hagerstown is higher on the Nats list of catchers than Solano. Just give it up, Peric!

  34. Steve M. - Aug 17, 2011 at 6:34 PM

    Section 222, Riggleman named Morse the starter early in Spring Training FWIW. Morse was red hot in Spring Training playing LF then also.Morse said he lost some focus at the end of Spring Training and I expect he will be fine playing LF or 1st base. His only loss of focus recently was for that MLB Network show where he changed to Hammer Time from Beast Mode. After going 0-4 that game, he was back to Beast Mode, I doubt he will have any lapse in focus and judgement like that again. LOL

  35. flynnie321 - Aug 17, 2011 at 6:48 PM

    True, 222, very true. Would he be this happy if he weren't third in the National League in hitting? St. Paul may have "learned to be content with much and with little" but Flynnie is much happier, humble, joyous and generally agreeable when he has $400,000 in his bank account (it happened – once, in 1988) than -$40 (which happened today.)And, not to raise a stinkin' zombie from the past, and with all due regard to FeelWood's excellent and timely conviction that employees are not chattel, but you were right that an MRI without contrast dye won't tell you much about the shoulder. I got this from the WaPo article with Rizzo holding a cell phone, dressed in an au courant blazer, shirt un-ticked, and jeans that I have never attempted. "Purke allowed the Nationals to inject into his shoulder for an arthrogram MRI exam, a rare concession." Has Rendon done the same?

  36. flynnie321 - Aug 17, 2011 at 6:51 PM

    shirt un-TUCKED. May all here be forever un-ticked, un-Lymed, etc.!

  37. Section 222 - Aug 17, 2011 at 7:27 PM

    Flynnie, thanks, that was my point yesterday. Based on Rizzo's statement, I assume Rendon didn't have the test done, which troubled me. In Boz's story this morning, he reports that Rendon's shoulder injury is "not structural." How they know that without doing the best kind of diagnostic test, I'm not sure. I'm very touchy about shoulders because in late 2007 an MRI Arthrogram revealed my own torn labrum, which was not revealed by a s sports medicine expert's exam, x-rays or a standard MRI. But I'll let that stinkin' zombie lie lest I be smacked down by NatsJack and others again. Steve M., you are absolutely right that Riggs gave Morse the LF job after spring training. How could he not? But then Morse was cold in April and early May and it was right back to the bench and platoonsville and being first on the doubleswitch chopping block for him. And Riggs started spouting the same garbage that he used to justifiy underusing Morse last year –that he's better against lefties, that he might be a guy who is more valuable off the bench, batting cleanup is too much pressure, he's better in the six hole than in the middle of the lineup, blah blah blah. He was forced to play him full time only by LaRoche's injury. Otherwise, who knows what might have happened. Maybe Morse would have remained on the bench in June, and our winning streak would never have happened, so Riggs wouldn't have gone temporarily insane with inflated visions of his own value and leverage, and … he'd still be the manager. Thank goodness for the MRI Arthrogram that revealed LaRoche's torn labrum!

  38. flynnie321 - Aug 17, 2011 at 7:32 PM

    Pedro Martinez avoided an MRI arthrogram until he was signed by the Mets. It revealed a 90% tear of the labrum. Who knows how long he had it? He was still able to pitch in the low 90's, if memory serves, until he was talked into the surgery, after which the bell tolled for Pedro's career.

  39. Feel Wood - Aug 17, 2011 at 7:36 PM

    "Purke allowed the Nationals to inject into his shoulder for an arthrogram MRI exam, a rare concession." Has Rendon done the same?Most likely, no. Why? Because – as George Costanza once explained in a Seinfeld episode – it's all about having "hand" in the negotiations. Purke, being a pitcher and therefore totally dependent on having a pristine shoulder, gained "hand" by having the dye injection, since if he came out clean it would force the Nationals to pony up the money he was asking for. If he didn't have the dye injection, he loses "hand" and the Nationals don't sign him. He has to go back to school and re-enter the draft in 2012. But that's the same outcome as if he takes the dye injection and fails. So he has nothing to lose and "hand" to gain by taking the injection.Rendon OTOH was drafted for his bat, which isn't so dependent on having a pristine shoulder. Also, he's a Boras client which virtually guarantees that he will sign, with the only question being for how much. Even with some doubt about his shoulder, he still has "hand". Having dye injected into his shoulder is not going to gain him anything. In fact, it could cause him to lose "hand" if the results come back negative. But refusing to have the dye injected won't hurt him, because he knows the Nationals will not want to be the first team to ever NOT sign a #1 draft pick who's also a Boras client. So Rendon has nothing to gain and "hand" to lose by taking the dye injection.It's all very simple, really. After the contract is signed, it's all about whatthe CBA will allow. Before the contract is signed, it's all about having "hand". George Costanza outsmarted Steinbrenner. He's no idiot.

  40. Section 222 - Aug 17, 2011 at 7:57 PM

    Feel Wood, you very well may be right. And if you are, that answers the question of why he didn't have the MRI with dye. But it doesn't tell us whether the shoulder is healthy. And sure, it's much worse to have a bad shoulder if you're a pitcher, but LaRoche's bat sure was affected by his injury. And if the injury is bad enough, sooner or later you have to have it fixed. In any event, what bothers me the most is the rosy spin about his health. "The injury isn't structural." "He passed two physicals, one with Lewis Yocum, AKA the Second Coming of Dr. James Andrews." Etc. If in fact the answer is, "We're taking a flier on him even though he refused to have the best diagnotic testing done on his shoulder because he's a huge talent, and if he needs surgery next year, we'll welcome him back in 2013, but we want him on our team" then fine. There's no rule that you only sign a player if he's in perfect health. Just don't BS us Mike.

  41. Feel Wood - Aug 17, 2011 at 8:11 PM

    "The injury isn't structural." "He passed two physicals, one with Lewis Yocum, AKA the Second Coming of Dr. James Andrews." Etc. If in fact the answer is, "We're taking a flier on him even though he refused to have the best diagnotic testing done on his shoulder because he's a huge talent, and if he needs surgery next year, we'll welcome him back in 2013, but we want him on our team" then fine. There's no rule that you only sign a player if he's in perfect health. Just don't BS us Mike.If Rizzo said there's no structural damage, it's only because the doctors who did the physical determined that. Rizzo's not making it up, or feeding us BS.As for your "taking a flier" comment, the fact is that they're taking a flier on any draft pick they sign, by definition. There are no guarantees. The draft pick could be perfectly healthy and get run over by a truck the day after he signs. He could be perfectly healthy and mysteriously lose his skills, a la Chuck Knoblauch. There is no way to know. Likewise, there is no way to prevent it from happening. The only alternative is to not sign the player. That's all obvious, so the fact that a GM does not point out the obvious each and every time he speaks does not mean he's BSing Nervous Nellies or Doubting Thomases like yourself. Get over it.

  42. Mark'd - Aug 17, 2011 at 8:22 PM

    Doubting Thomas Boswell was fine with it and he is Mr. Skepticism so as far as I am concerned NatsTown should be fine with the twin shoulders.

  43. Section 222 - Aug 17, 2011 at 8:25 PM

    Feel Wood — Sticks and stones will break my bones…. Don't worry, I'm over it. And believe me, I'm very happy they signed Rendon, even if it turns out that his shoulder holds him back for awhile. You're confident that Rizzo isn't BSing us. I'm not so sure. Yokum says, "Mike, as far as I can tell, the injury isn't structural. I'd be more confident, of course, if we could do an MRI Arthrogram, but you've told me we can't so that's my best medical judgment." Rizzo says publicly, "the injury isn't structural," and "he passed a physical with the renowned orthopedist Lewis Yokum." Is that BSing us? Depends on the meaning of BS I guess. We'll see what happens.

  44. Feel Wood - Aug 17, 2011 at 9:34 PM

    Rizzo says publicly, "the injury isn't structural," and "he passed a physical with the renowned orthopedist Lewis Yokum." Is that BSing us? So what if Rizzo had instead said "the doctors tell me the injury isn't structural", is that BS? Because it's basically what he said. No one in their right mind would think that Rizzo is capable of making a diagnosis on his own without consulting trained medical personnel. Does he have to issue a disclaimer whenever he discusses medical matters just to mollify skeptics like you?

  45. Big Cat - Aug 17, 2011 at 9:40 PM

    Ok Feel Wood….you and 222 break it up. We have bigger fish to fry. For starters…Detwilers on the bump tonight. Who we got in long relief? HotRod? Big Cup?

Archives

NL EAST STANDINGS

W L GB
WASHINGTON 75 57 --
ATLANTA 69 64 6.5
MIAMI 65 66 9.5
NEW YORK 62 71 13.5
PHILADELPHIA 61 72 14.5
Through Wednesday's early games

UPCOMING SCHEDULE
THU: OFF
FRI: Nats at Mariners, 10:10 p.m.
SAT: Nats at Mariners, 9:10 p.m.
SUN: Nats at Mariners, 4:10 p.m.
MON: Nats at Dodgers, 8:10 p.m.
TUE: Nats at Dodgers, 10:10 p.m.
WED: Nats at Dodgers, 4:10 p.m.
Full season schedule

Mark joins Rob Carlin and Joe Orsulak every Thursday at 4 p.m. on Comcast SportsNet for a half-hour show on the Nats, Orioles and rest of MLB. Re-airs Thursdays at 11:30 p.m., Saturdays at 9 a.m. and Sundays at 11:30 a.m.

ON THE RADIO

As ESPN-980 AM's Nats Insider, Mark makes daily appearances on the station's various shows. Here's the 2014 schedule (subject to change)...

MON: 12:45 p.m.
TUE: 2:30 p.m.
WED: 4:30 p.m.
THU: 2:30 p.m.
FRI: 1:30 p.m., 5:30 p.m.
SAT: 10:30 a.m.

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