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Five who could surprise this spring

Feb 9, 2012, 12:00 PM EDT

US Presswire file photo
Infielder Jarrett Hoffpauir has a career .366 on-base percentage in the minors.

We've spent the majority of the offseason talking about guys who will have the biggest impact on the Nationals' fortunes in 2012 and beyond. That includes returning starters like Ryan Zimmerman, Adam LaRoche, Stephen Strasburg and Jordan Zimmermann. And that includes the high-profile additions GM Mike Rizzo has made so far: Gio Gonzalez, Edwin Jackson and Brad Lidge.

It's probably safe to say all of the aforementioned players will have a significant impact — positive or negative — on the Nationals this season.

And then there are several lesser-publicized additions, guys who signed minor-league contracts or were acquired in low-profile deals, who could make an impression this spring and force their way into the Nationals' plans.

They may not have a huge impact on the club this season. Shoot, they may not make the Opening Day roster at all. But there always seems to be at least one player each spring who emerges out of nowhere andRead more »

117 Comments (Feed for Comments)
  1. MicheleS - Feb 9, 2012 at 12:21 PM

    What.. No Mike Cameron?

  2. Anonymous - Feb 9, 2012 at 12:22 PM

    Blanco comes north as the back up infielder…the rest go to Syracuse. I seem to recall he put up decent numbers one season with the Rangers and he had a better glove. I would think Davey will get his pop off the bench from the outfield not middle infield.

  3. Anonymous - Feb 9, 2012 at 12:50 PM

    Interesting info Zuck.I think that Blanco has a real chance to make the club, he brings a very reliable glove. The club has some guys who can come in and look to hit but really no one who can come in and turn a double play. Hoffpauir has a shot too as a backup MI (he can make the plays reaosnably and the upisde on the hitting might carry him over the top). I think that the other 3 guys are destined for minor league spots unless something weird happens injury-wise. We'll see.dfh21

  4. Anonymous8 - Feb 9, 2012 at 12:53 PM

    http://espn.go.com/video/clip?id=7548003Morse: "A HR is like a non-perfect swing"Love it!

  5. onesandfours - Feb 9, 2012 at 12:53 PM

    Whatever happened to Jesse English? He was my favorite underdog that season.

  6. natsfan1a - Feb 9, 2012 at 12:54 PM

    um, a pitcher? What do I win? :-)Or Jesse English (anyone remember him?) in 2010.As always, will be interesting to see what develops. Can we start the launch countdown now? 10…Best 25 (Without Options) Go North!

  7. Positively Half St. - Feb 9, 2012 at 12:55 PM

    There very well might not be a roster spot available for any of them. Do they all have options left? It seems that Rivero is probably th only one on our 40-man roster, since we got him off waivers from the Phillies. I imagine he still might have options still, but needs to remain on the 40-man or someone else will take him.Perhaps today's story will be more intersting to "Anonymous 7:50 Yesterday".+1/2St.

  8. MicheleS - Feb 9, 2012 at 1:05 PM

    Anon8..Hi, my name is Michael Morse and I can HIT THE BALL FAR! BEAST MODE!

  9. N. Cognito - Feb 9, 2012 at 1:15 PM

    DAMN! Not more baseball crap. I'm gone for the day.

  10. natscan reduxit - Feb 9, 2012 at 1:21 PM

    … here is the skinny about the Nats from Richard Griffin, one of the sports media in Toronto. Needless to say, for me his dismissal of the Expos coloured everything else he had to say:"WASHINGTON NATS (80-81)GM: Mike RizzoManager: Davey JohnsonReport card: PlusCh-changes: Added RHP Edwin Jackson, RHP Brad Lidge, LHP Gio Gonzalez, CF Mike Cameron, IF Mark DeRosa, RHP Chien-ming Wang, OF Rick Ankiel, RHP Chad Durbin . . . Lost C Pudge Rodriguez.Starman: RH Steven Strasburg, RF Jayson Werth, Gonzalez.All The Young Dudes (Stars <25): RHP Drew Storen, Strasburg, RHP Jordan Zimmermann, C Wilson Ramos, 2B Danny Espinosa, LF Bryce Harper.Fame: The Nats have been taking their best shot at every big name free agent and have a team that wants to compete right now. If Werth rebounds and the rotation is solid, who knows.Diamond Dogs: Downside is, after all, this is the Montreal Expos franchise eight years later and they still have yet to sniff the post-season. You reap what you sow."… yeah, thanx for nothing, Rich.Go Nats!! … and keep on Goin'

  11. sjb - Feb 9, 2012 at 1:25 PM

    Jesse English went north with the Nats in 2010, pitched in seven games in April (3.86 ERA)' then got hurt. He rehabbed in the GCL for three games, then spent the rest of the year in Syracuse. He was let go after the season and got picked up by Cleveland, but never pitched in the Indians organization; the only professional pitching he did last year was for the St. Paul Saints of the independent American Association during the month of August.

  12. Anonymous - Feb 9, 2012 at 1:37 PM

    Best 25 go North!!dfh21

  13. NatsLady - Feb 9, 2012 at 1:38 PM

    Off-topic note: for those who don't have cable or whose cable lineup doesn't include MLB Network, there is a podcast of "Intentional Talk" available. I found it on iTunes. "Intentional Talk" can be silly at times (men do giggle–a lot) but you get to see the players. Our former boy Gomes was on this week.Mark, is there a chance you and CSN can put your chats up on iTunes?

  14. Mark Zuckerman - Feb 9, 2012 at 1:43 PM

    MicheleS said…What.. No Mike Cameron?I actually wouldn't consider it a surprise if Cameron makes the club. I kind of expect it at this point. So that's why I didn't include him in this article.onesandfours said…Whatever happened to Jesse English? He was my favorite underdog that season.He wound up needing Tommy John surgery, and unfortunately his career hasn't been the same since. Shame, Jesse was a really nice guy who looked like he could become a solid lefty out of the pen.NatsLady said…Mark, is there a chance you and CSN can put your chats up on iTunes?Not sure how that works, but I'll certainly ask around at CSN.

  15. Unkyd - Feb 9, 2012 at 1:44 PM

    dfh21: gulp…BANG!

  16. Sunderland - Feb 9, 2012 at 1:52 PM

    Re: Options.X Paul, Hoffpauir and Blanco do not have MLB contracts, are not on the 40 man so they do not need options. They can decline going to Syracuse of course, but they do not need options or to clear waivers.Perry does have an option left, I think that was one of the driving factors in the trade that brought him here.Rivero? Dunno

  17. natsfan1a - Feb 9, 2012 at 1:54 PM

    Sunderland, if you're responding to my comment, it was a general attempt at a humorous riff on the B25GN meme and wasn't meant to relate to these guys in particular. But you've definitely done your homework (tips cap). :-)

  18. natsfan1a - Feb 9, 2012 at 1:57 PM

    NatsLady, I'm behind in my viewing (I record them to watch later), but might that have been an older IT episode? Gomes was on earlier in the offseason, before he signed with Oakland. He jumped into his swimming pool at the end of the segment, if that rings a bell (Millar is *such* a bad influence ;-)). If it wasn't an earlier episode, I'll look forward to watching it.

  19. Sec 3, My Sofa - Feb 9, 2012 at 2:00 PM

    Downside is, after all, this is the Montreal Expos franchise eight years later "Recovering Expos"? Maybe not. Is The Shark the last Expo standing?

  20. natsfan1a - Feb 9, 2012 at 2:05 PM

    Also Ian Desmond, I think?

  21. Theophilus - Feb 9, 2012 at 2:09 PM

    Agree w/ +1/2 Street none of these likely has a roster spot in their future. Blanco, Hoffpauir, Rivero probably are three-quarters of the Chiefs' starting infield as they are better than anyone scheduled to be there. Perry is pure surplusage, at least until one or two people get traded, and the Nats foresaw that when they traded Balester for someone with an option. The guy who could, at least in theory, be most useful at the ML level is Paul, who might — according to some things I've read — be a passable defensive replacement/platooner in the OF if he could hit worth a lick. But, with Harper and Brown probably headed to Syracuse, I don't know that there's a place for him to play there. If he doesn't blaze in ST, I think he gets DFA'd.

  22. Drew - Feb 9, 2012 at 2:19 PM

    De rigueur Desmond riff:Ian's been Expos-ed at the major league level.

  23. Theophilus - Feb 9, 2012 at 2:23 PM

    I don't recall reading anything about Paul, Blanco or Hoffpauir having anything in their contracts allowing them to decline assignment to Syracuse. That would be incredible hubris on their part, had they insisted on such an option. None of them has any reason in their history to imagine other ML teams will be lining up on April 3 to retain their services. They're better off taking the $75K or so they were promised in their minor leage contracts and praying for a callup, trade, sale, etc.

  24. SCNatsFan - Feb 9, 2012 at 2:38 PM

    I vote for Lombo to head back to 'cuse and give one of these guys a spot so Lombo can get as many ABs early in the year as he can get. Sitting on the bench here won't help his game.I also voted for Erin Andrews to date me so obviously my vote isn't worth much.

  25. Sec 3, My Sofa - Feb 9, 2012 at 2:42 PM

    But, with Harper and Brown probably headed to Syracuse, I don't know that there's a place for [Xavier Paul] to play there. If he doesn't blaze in ST, I think he gets DFA'd. More likely he'd get released, I think, unless their agreement with him makes him a free agent if he doesn't make the Best 25 Going North. (See how I snuck that in there?)

  26. Hopeful2012 - Feb 9, 2012 at 2:43 PM

    Mark -Great article!If the Nats are looking for a defensive stalwart at multiple positions Blanco is your guy, if you are looking for a bat to PH but not sub in on defense Hoffpauir may be the guy.I am all on Xavier Paul I think he has "it" and with Eckstein's help I think he will contribute meaningful innings in 2012 at Nats Park.I am sure we will have some turnover in the bullpen as the season progresses and I do not douobt that we will see Perry at some point in 2012.Any thoughts for converting Rivero to a 1B?

  27. NatsLady - Feb 9, 2012 at 2:44 PM

    1A, I think this is a new one, because they said, "Hey, Jonny, last time you joined us, you jumped into the pool." He is on with Cody Ross, and it's dated 2/8/2012.

  28. Binx Bolling - Feb 9, 2012 at 2:50 PM

    1. Desmond hits .145 the first three weeks of the season and is replaced by Lombadozzi(Espinosa to SS) who hits .275 for the season with an OBP of .340 and 27 steals.2. La Roche is injured again and Tyler Moore is brought up. He ends the season with 22 homers and 55 RBIs. It will prove to be Moore's best year as major league pitchers learn his week spots. Moore won't hit 20 more home runs for the rest of his career.3. Milone and Peacock win more games with the A's than Gonzalez or Jackson does for the Nats. Jackson has a 5+ ERA before being released or traded in August.5. Ramos starts off hot at the bat and has 15 HRS by July 4. He wears down badly afterward and only hits 19 for the season while batting .235. As a condition of a contract extension, Ramos agrees not to play winter ball any longer.4. Jayson Werth surprises at the bat and hits .280 with 27 HRS and 88 RBIS.

  29. NatsNut - Feb 9, 2012 at 2:52 PM

    LOL, 1a"Best 25 (Without Options) Go North!"

  30. natsfan1a - Feb 9, 2012 at 2:59 PM

    Thanks, NatsLady. Will look forward to watching that episode. On a related note, saw an MLB Network blurb saying that their ST-specific programming would start on Feb. 20. I've not yet figured out whether the 30 Clubs in 30 Days program will be back.(And glad you enjoyed it, NatsNut. ;-))

  31. natsfan1a - Feb 9, 2012 at 3:06 PM

    Looks like IT podcasts can be downloaded from the MLB Network site as well.In other MLB Network news, the second round of the Baseball IQ game show is supposed to start on Thursday, and the Nats will be represented as their guy advanced.

  32. natsfan1a - Feb 9, 2012 at 3:07 PM

    Daggone it, I dropped my URL.

  33. JaneB - Feb 9, 2012 at 3:10 PM

    This is great information, Mark.The other night, we opened up the Strasburg pitching debut DVD and watched it. It brought back lots of memories, but early on, I saw this tall, short haired guy in the dugout — our bench outfielder/first baseman before he went all Beast Mode on us and won an everyday spot. So it does happen!We had lots of observations from the DVD — how free Strasburg is in his motion. How he was getting beat and found an extra gear. Remembered the joyful combo of Zimm and Dunn (though I know we are better now, without him). How Guzman was hitting in the 300s and ended up out of baseball the next year.But the most remarkable happy difference? FP in the booth. GOODNESS what an upgrade. I'm especially loving the countdown numbers at the top of the site, today. Tomorrow, I will love them more.

  34. LurkerNowPoster - Feb 9, 2012 at 3:10 PM

    natsfan1a (hi!), Gomes was on IT with Cody Ross the other day. They are working out together (with others) at some facility in AZ.

  35. Adam - Feb 9, 2012 at 3:11 PM

    All this says to me, is that it looks pretty likely they keep Lombardozzi in Syracuse to play every day. Which is the right move. These other options should be as good as what could be expected of him in his rookie year playing sporadically.

  36. Steve M. - Feb 9, 2012 at 3:25 PM

    Mark, great post today. I agree with you on Mike Cameron but what about Chad Tracy and Brett Carroll and the other dark horse favorite here Corey Brown.

  37. MicheleS - Feb 9, 2012 at 3:26 PM

    JaneB…I have the Strasmas game on DVR and every time I miss Spring (which has been quite a lot recently) I watch it.Agree 100% with you about FP.

  38. PAY TO PLAY - Feb 9, 2012 at 3:48 PM

    I thought last years bench had 2 surprises in Jerry Hairston and Laynce Nix.Of course Nix faded into the statistical abyss ending at a .299 OBP which was due to his injuries. His OPS was still good given his power numbers at .750 and even with the .299 OBP, he still exceeded all of his career averages in 2011 and certainly contributed to a few wins and unfortunately a few losses.Hoffpauir is intriguing. He was always a highly touted prospect that suffered from poor defense and wasn't given a prolonged shot at the Majors.Chad Tracy was a star back with the DBacks when he first debuted. I remember he got injured when he was with Arizona and has bounced around ever since. Where was he in 2011?

  39. Steve M. - Feb 9, 2012 at 3:56 PM

    P2P, Chad Tracy played in Japan last year I believe. He is the closest the Nats have to Nix. He's another LH 1st baseman.Not sure what he has left. Some trivia. Chad Tracy homered in the Nats 1st game ever in 2005 at RFK which was the 1st visitors HR ever against the Nats.Tracy looked like a star in 2005. I don't know what happened to him with injuries. He faded fast since then.

  40. Mark'd - Feb 9, 2012 at 4:02 PM

    SteveM, more trivia, Chad Tracy broke up Livan's 2 hit shutout with a 3 run bomb. Some stud named Chad Cordero had to close out the game with a Save. 5-3 Nats won!

  41. BinM - Feb 9, 2012 at 4:05 PM

    Mark – Good starter list for possible 2012 'dark horse' candidates. On paper, I suppose Blanco looks to be the most likely, but you could toss some of the older names (Tracy, Michaels, Teahan) into the mix just as easily. BTW, greatly appreciated the ST/Viera posts over the last couple of days. For those of us who consider making the trek (or even just live vicariously), they made for good reading.

  42. Steve M. - Feb 9, 2012 at 4:27 PM

    BinM, yep you just named 2 more re-treads (Michael and Teahan) that are long shots. Mark brings up good points on Xavier Paul. He's another guy who was a stud in the Minors with a high OBP.That's why all the people who crow about Lombo's high OBP in the Minors have to realize it doesn't always translate well to the MLB.In the MLB, they will exploit your weaknesses and when you face the true aces, not only they exploit your weaknesses but they can also make you look bad.The difference from mediocre to greatness is 2 more hits a week. A .250 batter turns into a .321 batter with those 2 hits that for others are outs.Its mere millimeters that make the difference on a bat whereby a HR is a pop-up out and a line drive gapper is just a hard hit ground ball double play.Michael Morse in that video link above said it right about the HR swing. That's why they say a line drive hitter will get his Home Runs.The difference between Chad Tracy and the rest of these guys is that Chad Tracy once had it and lost it. He was a 911 OPS guy in 2005. Can he ever find his stroke again? Can Xavier Paul translate what he can do in the Minors to the MLB?

  43. FS - Feb 9, 2012 at 4:28 PM

    Strasmas game; if memory serves right, Nationals were selling dvds of that one game with post-game commentary and other stuff. correct?do you know where I can buy this?

  44. Anonymous - Feb 9, 2012 at 4:29 PM

    SteveM, Xavier Paul and Hoffpauir were both high OBP guys in the Minors.

  45. PAY TO PLAY - Feb 9, 2012 at 4:31 PM

    FS said… Strasmas game; if memory serves right, Nationals were selling dvds of that one game with post-game commentary and other stuff. correct?do you know where I can buy this? February 09, 2012 11:28 AM They were actually free giveaways to all in attendance at a game.

  46. Sunderland - Feb 9, 2012 at 4:44 PM

    Strasmas DVDhttp://tinyurl.com/74o8wej

  47. Steve M. - Feb 9, 2012 at 4:48 PM

    Anonymous said… SteveM, Xavier Paul and Hoffpauir were both high OBP guys in the Minors. February 09, 2012 11:29 AM Since P2P mentioned Hoffpauir earlier, I didn't mention him again.Yes, both examples of good high OBP MiLB players and both were top prospects early on in their careers. Hoffpauir many think he can hit at the MLB level and its his glove that is an issue.

  48. NatsLady - Feb 9, 2012 at 4:49 PM

    On Baseball Today, Klaw just called Harper a "perennial All-Star and potential HOF'er." He only ranks Trout above Harper because of the position he plays and being more MLB-ready–those are his #1, #2. He says he wouldn't argue with Harper as #1. So what is the negativity?

  49. natsfan1a - Feb 9, 2012 at 5:00 PM

    Was just looking at the online Nats shop, and noticed that they have some different custom clothing options now. In addition to custom jerseys for men and women, they have a short-sleeved tee for women. Men (the lucky ducks) can create a short-sleeved or long-sleeved tee or a hooded sweatshirt. Geez, what if *I* wanted a custom hoody, fellas? Oh well, baby steps…

  50. SonnyG10 - Feb 9, 2012 at 5:09 PM

    1a, Wonder if I could order a NI tee with my NI handle on it.

  51. NatinBeantown - Feb 9, 2012 at 5:14 PM

    NatsLady,RE: Keith Law's rankings and alleged bias, I saw an interesting tidbit on MLBTR that the Padre's are his #1 farm system despite not having a single top 25 prospect. so it appears that his rankings are not nearly as "top heavy" (weighted for the top few prospects) as BA, Sickels or others, and focuses much more on depth. That jibes with his comment that the Gio trade hurt the Nats ranking so much because it cost so much in depth.Not offering an opinion here, just an added element to yesterday's conversation.

  52. NatsLady - Feb 9, 2012 at 5:16 PM

    Well, KLaw likes the EJax signing, so go figure.

  53. NatinBeantown - Feb 9, 2012 at 5:18 PM

    RE: Perry, I wonder what the commentariat thinks of Rizzo's faith in McCatty. A staff with Gio, EJax, mpH-Rod and Perry has absolutely electric stuff, but could be a trainwreck control-wise. Are these just good bets, or do the Nats have an actual advantage in the coaching staff side of things?

  54. FS - Feb 9, 2012 at 5:23 PM

    Thanks for info guys on SS dvd.thanks for the link Sunderland.Just bought it. :)

  55. Water23 - Feb 9, 2012 at 5:23 PM

    Mark,Any chance of you reinstating the daily audio interview? They were great and allowed all of us that can't make it to ST get a feel for things in FL.

  56. CN - Feb 9, 2012 at 5:40 PM

    For those who haven't/can't see Law's rankings, here's his take on the Nats top 10 prospects, with Harper and Rendon ranking 2 & 17, respectively on his top 100Washington Nationals1. Bryce Harper, RF (2)2. Anthony Rendon, 3B (17)3. Alex Meyer, RHP4. Destin Hood, RF5. Brian Goodwin, CF6. Sammy Solis, LHP7. Matt Purke, LHP8. Steve Lombardozzi, IF9. Robbie Ray, LHP10. Michael Taylor, CF

  57. SonnyG10 - Feb 9, 2012 at 5:46 PM

    DAMN the scalpers who bought tickets to the Phillies games and resold them to Phillies fans. I hope you rot in hell!!!!

  58. NatsLady - Feb 9, 2012 at 5:53 PM

    Sonny, are there no tickets left? I was going to order mine, even though I might not be able to go on May 5. Already have my ticker for the Sunday game.

  59. SonnyG10 - Feb 9, 2012 at 6:02 PM

    I don't know, NatsLady. I was responding to a Bleachers report on how the "Take Back Our Park" plan backfired because of all the scalpers making a fast buck.

  60. NatsLady - Feb 9, 2012 at 6:06 PM

    This is a really good topic for discussion. Given the very low rate at which prospects make it to The Show, would you rank a farm system better if it has a few "star" quality prospects vs. one that doesn't have Harper but does have a bunch of tier 2 or 3 prospects?

  61. NatsLady - Feb 9, 2012 at 6:08 PM

    This comment has been removed by the author.

  62. MicheleS - Feb 9, 2012 at 6:11 PM

    1A.. thanks for the shopping tips… I want my STH discount before I buy anything. But the new stuff for women is good (starting to add some stock for us). And I want a personalized Hoody and a long sleeved shirt!captha = oblesseu! Did someone just sneeze?

  63. natsfan1a - Feb 9, 2012 at 6:12 PM

    Alternatively, maybe you could make a custom Nats t-shirt with your handle and add the "Insider" post-production. Duct tape, is there anything it can't do? :-)SonnyG10 said… 1a, Wonder if I could order a NI tee with my NI handle on it. February 09, 2012 12:09 PM

  64. NatsLady - Feb 9, 2012 at 6:14 PM

    Sorry, removed my post because of typos. Um, if the scalpers are making big bucks off Philthy fans–!!?? Sock it to 'em. I'm telling you, the guys are going to be FIRED up for that series. With the Nats having a good team, this rivalry will be the real deal, unlike the O's rivalry, which is sort of a made-up deal.The buses will have to park in Springfield (ok, maybe not Springfield, but not right outside the park.)Thanks if you can get the chats on iTunes, Mark. I have not had good luck gettng the CSN app to work on my android, and anyway, it's much easier if there is a central place to get all the podcasts.

  65. Anonymous - Feb 9, 2012 at 6:31 PM

    I haven't done it, but I think you can order NatsInsider stuff (t-shirts and the like) from cafepress.com.

  66. sm13 - Feb 9, 2012 at 6:38 PM

    I'm thinking Blanco and Tracy may give Davey the best options off the bench. Lombo may be best served playing full-time in Syracuse.

  67. natsfan1a - Feb 9, 2012 at 6:42 PM

    I searched for the NI stuff on cafepress.com earlier and didn't find it. I've already got my NI tee. :-)

  68. Drew - Feb 9, 2012 at 6:52 PM

    A bit o' Thursday pot stirrage:Given that the Nats scored 624 runs, which ranked 24th in MLB, why not swoop in and grab Ibanez on an incentive-laden one-year deal as a bridge to Bryce?It's better than Teahen crumpets.

  69. natsfan1a - Feb 9, 2012 at 6:56 PM

    Thanks, Drew, now I'm hungry. I like mine with olallieberry jam. Seems like I read that the Yankees were looking to pick up Ibanez. At least if we got him he wouldn't be teeing off on our pitchers (well, except for intersquad games, but who cares about that?).

  70. BinM - Feb 9, 2012 at 7:03 PM

    Drew: Why would any OF sign an incentive-driven contract with the Nats, when they can see it's at best a 3-month deal?

  71. Anonymous - Feb 9, 2012 at 7:11 PM

    Ibanez only hit off of the Nats so getting him wouldn't help. If your thinking of hitters past their prime you could go for Matsui or Fukudome. Though Ibanez has a fairly cool name the other two have him beat in that category.DEM

  72. Anonymous - Feb 9, 2012 at 7:13 PM

    Think of the possibilities. The Beast in left and Godzilla in right. We'll have to come up with a good nickname for Werth.DEM

  73. Drew - Feb 9, 2012 at 7:19 PM

    BinM That's a reasonable question. Presumably Raul's agent will note that LaRoche is prime deadline trade bait, which frees up Morse for the 1b switcheroo.Just sayin' that Vlad, Damon, Matsui and D. Lee are DH-types now and Raul seems to like hitting in Nats Park.

  74. Just sayin' - Feb 9, 2012 at 7:30 PM

    Actually, it looks like Ibanez hit pretty well at home (in Philly), but quite poorly on the road. He also hit well against all the NL East teams, but that may be a function of him getting eight games against each of them at Citizens Bank Park (against the Nats, in fact, he hit poorly in Washington but great in Philadelphia). He had performed pretty steadily through his 30s at about a 2.5 WAR clip up until last season. The $10m (or so) question would be whether last season was an anomaly or the beginning of his 38-year-old decline. I'd bet on the latter.

  75. blovy8 - Feb 9, 2012 at 7:31 PM

    You can manage with an Ibanez, but it's really only a stopgap, as it doesn't have the sustain and playing ability of a vintage Gibson. Sadly, no Josh or Kirk is available.

  76. Tcostant - Feb 9, 2012 at 7:34 PM

    Always like when National media mentions the Nats, here are the "100 Names You Need to Know" that has there Nats' prospects listed within the two links:http://content.usatoday.com/communities/dailypitch/post/2012/02/usa-today-baseball-100-names-to-know/1http://content.usatoday.com/communities/dailypitch/post/2012/02/100-baseball-prospects-players-to-know/1

  77. Just sayin' - Feb 9, 2012 at 7:38 PM

    Ibanez in Nats Park (2011, 8 games): .167/.212/.267Ibanez in Nats Park (2010, 7 games): .250/.333/.500Ibanez in Nats Park (2009, 9 games): .450/.488/.975Ibanez in Nats Park (career, 24 games): .306/.358/.622Most of his success in Nats Park came in 2009. Do you bet on that or his more recent performance in Washington?

  78. blovy8 - Feb 9, 2012 at 7:47 PM

    Matsui or Damon could probably handle it in a limited way until Harper comes up in a platoon and then really great bench bats. The big issue is the arm and injury risk for Damon, he can still run well enough to steal bases and probably would just give runners a couple of extra bases, and would test our cutoff men's arms. If they would accept the role for 2 million, I'd take the hit in defense when they're in the field. Damon's going for 3000 hits, so he'll want to play regardless, and maybe hope an AL team needs him later.

  79. blovy8 - Feb 9, 2012 at 7:48 PM

    Man, I need to edit these posts. Probably the fences too.

  80. Steve M. - Feb 9, 2012 at 7:51 PM

    sm13 said… I'm thinking Blanco and Tracy may give Davey the best options off the bench. Lombo may be best served playing full-time in Syracuse. February 09, 2012 1:38 PM (In sarcastic tone) If Lombo starts in Syracuse, how can he be the starting 2nd baseman and leadoff which means Desi keeps his job and doesn't get traded to Tampa and Espi stays at 2nd base. Oh my…..(In regular voice) Where have all the Lombo people gone? The cautionary tale is certainly the lives of guys like Hoffpauir and Xavier Paul and hundreds of others who show MiLB numbers mean something but aren't a guarantee they will mean anything once you are struggling at the MLB level.

  81. Scooter - Feb 9, 2012 at 7:55 PM

    NatsLady, what chats are you talking about? Those Beltway Baseball video things he does with the Chase kid?And yes, how much to value depth in ranking farm systems is a great topic. I agree that you have to consider the washout rate — even top prospects fail. Where is the tradeoff between top-heavy and deep? I don't know the answer, but it's good to think about.All I know for sure is, Keith Law's hate for the Washington Nationals is exceeded only by his hatred of kittens, bunny rabbits, and plucky tow-headed youths.

  82. Scooter - Feb 9, 2012 at 8:02 PM

    Steve, may I gently point out that you're the only one bringing up Lombardozzi leading off right now? If others are letting it lie, maybe you could do the same.If memory serves (and it may not, in which case I'm sorry), you felt unfairly picked-on for voicing unpopular opinions in the past. Why not extend the courtesy you wish you had received?

  83. Sec 3, My Sofa - Feb 9, 2012 at 8:03 PM

    Of course, it's always possible the 05 May game will get rained out after several long, phan-soaking delays, and they have to come back for a doubleheader Sunday. Good luck finding a place to stay overnight, phellas. then again, the captcha was "loope" so maybe that's not such a good idea.

  84. Scooter - Feb 9, 2012 at 8:04 PM

    Oh dear. I just chided Steve for picking a fight with someone who's not even here … SEVEN MINUTES after I goaded the anti-Keith-Law contingent, who are similarly absent.Irony fail, and a ten-minute major.

  85. Sec 3, My Sofa - Feb 9, 2012 at 8:09 PM

    Plea-bargained down to 7:15 for cooperating and turning yourself in, Scooter.

  86. Lombardozzi's Mom - Feb 9, 2012 at 8:10 PM

    Lombardozzi should be leading off.SteveM knew I would be writing that 15 minutes before I did.

  87. blovy8 - Feb 9, 2012 at 8:18 PM

    OK Steve M., I'll bite. I'm not saying Lombo needs to be on the club to start, and I don't think he will make the club as a utility guy unless the spring performances change things (maybe an injury), but he has plenty more upside than Blanco as a regular player. He doesn't have the arm for short, but as Espy can likely play there better than Desmond, what's the big deal? It would improve the defense overall, and might not cost anything in offense, given Ian's numbers most months of the season. Now I know they won't do that, because club just likes Desmond too much, but Lombo's contact skills may him a better hitter for average than anyone we are set to carry on the bench. You need a pesky hitter or two around to actually get on base, as opposed to watching pinch hitters strikeout half the time, and it takes more than 32 plate appearances in the bigs to say someone's "struggling" to hit. OTOH, I doubt they're worried about his "development" too much, and he's not going to block a guy like Rendon in the infield, so he's also pretty good insurance to run through his options.

  88. Anonymous - Feb 9, 2012 at 8:21 PM

    Heard this mentioned sometime this week by a poster and heard it today – 106.7 absolutely on a tear with trashing Harper today. Called him disrespectful and incendiary – didn't know they knew any words that big. They are predicting that he will get boo-ed out of nats park by everyone there because their feelings are so hurt by Harper saying the redskins suck. People are actually calling in and coming pretty close to wanting to do him bodily harm. Way out there and over the top. Sports talk radio at it's finest ( not). Didn't hear a word about the actual team and impending spring training. Shocker! I agree that they are a poor excuse for an official team radio station.

  89. blovy8 - Feb 9, 2012 at 8:25 PM

    All Harper has to do is say he was misquoted and said the Redskins *owner* sucks.

  90. Anonymous - Feb 9, 2012 at 8:28 PM

    Wow. It is beyond any kind of question that the Redskins do suck. Big time suck. Those guys are the suckiest bunch of sucks that ever sucked (to paraphrase Homer Simpson). And is it so terrible, in this town of transplants, that Harper comes with his own fandom for other teams? If harping about Harper not expressing some kind of false love for the Skins is a real problem for some people, then those people were likely going to find something to hate about the guy in any event. So forget them.dfh21

  91. natsfan1a - Feb 9, 2012 at 8:34 PM

    Extra points for self-awareness, though, so I think it's a wash. (Plus, I don't know what a ten-minute major is, so I'd be hesitant to assign one.)Irony fail, and a ten-minute major.

  92. natsfan1a - Feb 9, 2012 at 8:35 PM

    And I like redskins in potato salad. I prefer sweet potatoes for my fries, though. Wait, what?

  93. MicheleS - Feb 9, 2012 at 8:36 PM

    For our baseball card lovers. If this is a repost, I am sorry. But keep scrolling down to see Beast…It's a Keeper.. Wilson is in it, so it has to be that Seattle gamehttp://keitholbermann.mlblogs.com/

  94. MicheleS - Feb 9, 2012 at 8:43 PM

    Harper..Look – As long as the kid is on our team, I will cheer for him – I mean, I have a Werth Jersey (and I get tons of crap for that)! IF the kid goes to another team, then he is fair game. I just hope while he is with us that some of the Sports Radio people don't use him as red meat. I bet if Bryce went on 106.7 they would suck up to him.But then again.. those guys at 106.7 no less about baseball than a new born baby.

  95. MicheleS - Feb 9, 2012 at 8:48 PM

    And because we haven't had one in awhile.BEST 25 GO NORTH! Down the Hatch!

  96. Belorussian Olympic Judge - Feb 9, 2012 at 9:04 PM

    natsfan1a: I believe a 'ten-minute major' is a penalty assessed in certain winter sports played on ice. For example, Tanya Harding was given a 'ten-minute major' when she body-checked Nancy Kerrigan a few years back.

  97. Kenz aFan - Feb 9, 2012 at 9:05 PM

    Sorry, forgot to include the http part:http://support.apple.com/kb/TA23478

  98. Anonymous - Feb 9, 2012 at 9:06 PM

    MicheleS – they were definitely using him as red meat – they were just whipping up their minions, who were calling in and trying to out-do one another with their bashing. Lots of Maryland accents, just sayin'. I found it a bit un-nerving, it was just so mean-spirited. I mean, he's really just a brash,talented kid. Those nfl guys have the market cornered on arrogance, so what they heck is their problem? They really know zero about baseball and that is the truth. Seems like maybe they should learn a little bit about respecting the nats organization. Not saying they shouldn't criticize, but this was pretty bad stuff.

  99. Anonymous - Feb 9, 2012 at 9:06 PM

    Nick Johnson to the O's on a minor league deal. Best 25 go North!!dfh21

  100. Anonymous - Feb 9, 2012 at 9:07 PM

    Yes, the last is the most interesting: Carlos Rivero. There have been some interesting reports on both the Indian's and Phillies web sites about this kid. And that's the point he has been in AA ball for 2 years (maybe ready for AAA) and is still just 23 years old. BUT, Mark, my understanding is that he may be just a 1 year rental? I guess he becomes a free agent (albeit still has an option this year) next year because he started in the minors so young as an International signing?In any case statistically Rivero created an outlier for the positive in his stats last year.In 535 PA, Rivero had a .385 wOBA and a 1.7 bRAAcompare to the previous year of:444 PA, .291 wOBA, -17.1 bRAA which is horrendous and the reason he ended up on waivers claimed by the Phillies … This kind of statistical leap is usually unheard of and given the player's age it could mean he is about to "break out" at age 23. If he does … Rizzo, Clark et al will look like geenyuses fer sure.

  101. Kenz aFan - Feb 9, 2012 at 9:07 PM

    What happened to my post explaining how to publish a podcast to iTunes?

  102. Unkyd - Feb 9, 2012 at 9:09 PM

    gulp….BANG!!!" I bet if Bryce went on 106.7 they would suck up to him."Bingo, MicheleS!!! I hope he makes them say pretty please, when they beg him to call go on air!!! lol

  103. Anonymous - Feb 9, 2012 at 9:14 PM

    And yes, how much to value depth in ranking farm systems is a great topic. I agree that you have to consider the washout rate — even top prospects fail. Where is the tradeoff between top-heavy and deep? I don't know the answer, but it's good to think about.Tampa Bay versus the Nats system. Pretty self-explanatory. It IS VERY possible, (given the canny scouts running the Nats talent show), that some players few have heard of might end up as top prospects before July. And I'm not speaking of the top of the prospect rankings. Mark lists one that is very intriguing, a third baseman named Carlos Rivero. There are indeed others. And yes, even pitchers. We'll just have to wait and see, let the drama unfold and find out just how good Rizzo, Clark, Harris, Scialba, Minniti, well the who crew are working together attempting to create a championship caliber franchise. So far, I think they're pretty good … and like many prospects may get better.

  104. natsfan1a - Feb 9, 2012 at 9:30 PM

    Thanks, judge. I do recall the Harding incident (ouch).Belorussian Olympic Judge said… natsfan1a: I believe a 'ten-minute major' is a penalty assessed in certain winter sports played on ice. For example, Tanya Harding was given a 'ten-minute major' when she body-checked Nancy Kerrigan a few years back. February 09, 2012 4:04 PM

  105. JaneB - Feb 9, 2012 at 9:31 PM

    The day that Prine OppoBoppo goes to suck up to the idiots on 106.7 … This will be when he is hitting in the high 200s… Is the day I start listening to those guys agan. Talk about no love for the home team…they only know one sport (pointy ball) and pretend to know hockey. Mostly they just know howtomtrash talk, but without the substance the makes any trash talk fun to listen to.I hope Nick sticks with the Os. They could use some of his great heart. I could use to read about him every so often.

  106. natsfan1a - Feb 9, 2012 at 9:33 PM

    Actually, I was thinking of the Galooly incident, but I digress.KenzaFan, I've had posts vanish into hyperspace on occasion (no idea why).

  107. natsfan1a - Feb 9, 2012 at 9:34 PM

    On another note, I can't boycott sports talk radio, because I never listen to it. So basically, I got nothing. Oh well, back to the drawing board.

  108. Anonymous - Feb 9, 2012 at 9:43 PM

    The only guy Harper had better suck up to and listen well to is named Davey Johnson. At this point anyone else, besides the managers and coaches at AAA/AA and the majors, is all superfluous. At age 19 he had better be a sponge and learn as much as he can as fast as he can. You can bet your bottom dollar on Anthony Rendon doing exactly that … he along with that another Rice guy Hague might just catch Harper … if he doesn't keep the nose to that grindstone.

  109. gonatsgo - Feb 9, 2012 at 9:46 PM

    I really hope Nick "The Stick" can resurrect his career – good guy. Which is the most dreaded place to end up now – Houston or Baltimore?

  110. Tonya Harding - Feb 9, 2012 at 9:51 PM

    I got a lot more than ten minutes. That's what hockey players get for doing, in-game, what I paid somebody else to do, after hours.

  111. Sec 3, My Sofa - Feb 9, 2012 at 9:54 PM

    Sports talk radio? They still do that? Who knew?Wake him when it's somebody who counts (without taking their shoes off).

  112. Sec 3, My Sofa - Feb 9, 2012 at 9:55 PM

    Unless he really gets annoyed, buys the station, and fires them.

  113. Sec 3, My Sofa - Feb 9, 2012 at 9:57 PM

    Besides, they *do* suck.

  114. natsfan1a - Feb 9, 2012 at 9:58 PM

    LOL, we've moved on. See you in the Nick the Stick thread.

  115. Sec 3, My Sofa - Feb 9, 2012 at 10:04 PM

    But… but… I was just starting to get loose, Skip!

  116. natsfan1a - Feb 9, 2012 at 11:07 PM

    You were definitely on a roll.

  117. Anonymous - Feb 10, 2012 at 5:04 AM

    Speaking of the expos. Can we please try and get expos throwback jerseys on these guys this year? I personally really liked the jerseys and would be great to see them on the field again. Mark, can we mention this to the bigwigs?

Archives

NL EAST STANDINGS

W L GB
WASHINGTON 58 48 --
ATLANTA 58 51 1.5
MIAMI 53 55 6.0
NEW YORK 52 56 7.0
PHILADELPHIA 48 61 11.5
Through Thursday's games

UPCOMING SCHEDULE
FRI: Phillies at Nats, 7:05 p.m.
SAT: Phillies at Nats, 7:05 p.m.
SUN: Phillies at Nats, 1:35 p.m.
MON: Orioles at Nats, 7:05 p.m.
TUE: Mets at Nats, 7:05 p.m.
WED: Mets at Nats, 7:05 p.m.
THU: Mets at Nats, 12:35 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.

*All times Eastern. You can also listen to the station on 94.3 FM, 92.7 FM and online at ESPN980.com. Click here for past audio clips.

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