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Not ready yet … but how far away?

Mar 19, 2012, 11:00 AM EDT

US Presswire photo
Bryce Harper will open the season at Class AAA Syracuse.

Few would dispute, after watching him in big-league camp for one month, that Bryce Harper wasn't ready to make the Nationals' Opening Day roster.

Yes, the 19-year-old outfielder had his moments against the big boys, especially during the first week of Grapefruit League play. But it was pretty clear all along his game wasn't polished enough to warrant a seat on the team's charter flight to Chicago in two weeks.

Truth be told, most of Harper's greatest moments of the spring came during batting practice as he wowed onlookers with titanic blasts over every corner of the outfield wall.

Once he faced actual pitchers in actual game situations? Well, he had a few nice moments. He beat out that routine grounder to third for a single against the Mets on March 5. And he crushed a double off theRead more ยป

188 Comments (Feed for Comments)
  1. Cease the Opportunity - Mar 19, 2012 at 11:02 AM

    I'd keep him there 'til September…

  2. Anonymous - Mar 19, 2012 at 11:05 AM

    grasping at straws by hoping that Harper can be a big league center fielder.

  3. Joe Seamhead - Mar 19, 2012 at 11:17 AM

    Bryce spoke volumes the other day when he said that he found getting reads on the ball in CF was easier for him then the corners. LF field would be waste of his speed and arm. RF is a very difficult position to master for many players. The slice on the ball from right handers can be brutal to learn, and great right fielders really are born with a natural "radar" to play the position. Good luck to Bryce, and hats off to Rizzo for making the right call.

  4. bdrube - Mar 19, 2012 at 11:20 AM

    @Anon 7:05 – and you're basing that assessment on what, exactly?

  5. fpcsteve - Mar 19, 2012 at 11:21 AM

    Harper's results against Teheran, Pineda, Sabbathia, and Fister make it unlikely that he will be up early in the season (i.e., April). And if the Nats are doing decently well, there will be no rush at all. This is a fair result given his ST.

  6. HHover - Mar 19, 2012 at 11:24 AM

    Does switching Harper to CF give the Nats an excuse to stash him in the minors for longer? Even if he's tearing up AAA pitching by June (a big if, I think), the Nats might say, yeah, but he's only played 40-50 games at the hardest position in the OF–his defense needs more work before he's ready to bring up.

  7. Steady Eddie - Mar 19, 2012 at 11:56 AM

    HHover — if he's really raking at Syr in June, and they need his bat (hard to imagine they wouldn't in that case), I'd expect they'd put him in right for a month or two to watch Werth in CF first. Harper has the speed, arm, and baseball instincts to do OK there but there's a lot to learn about directing traffic with teammates etc.bdrube — he's basing it on being the all-knowing peric, a.k.a. why God made scroll functions.

  8. Unkyd - Mar 19, 2012 at 11:56 AM

    @7:05…. Grasping at straws for some negatrolling?

  9. NatsJack in Florida - Mar 19, 2012 at 11:57 AM

    Bryce's ability to break on balls immediately coming off the bat was so much better when playing CF and it was apparent to anyone watching.Just like Yogi said, "you can observe alot just by watching".

  10. Sunderland - Mar 19, 2012 at 11:58 AM

    If Harper can be a legit MLB centerfielder, even if just for a few years, that would be a very nice development. Watching him play LF last year, I never would have expected he might be capable of CF. Harper in CF for a few years would mean the top of the order almost has to be SS and 2B, so between Desi and Espi and Dozey and Rendon and whomever, we need some table-setters.

  11. Sunderland - Mar 19, 2012 at 11:59 AM

    Anon 7:05 – no way that is peric

  12. joemktg - Mar 19, 2012 at 12:00 PM

    Pre and post ST injury stats at the plate validate his statement regarding his timing: it was definitely off. Great idea to see if he can grow into a CF at the AAA level, and no better time to do it than now. He showed well in the corner, so let's see how he does in CF. That's what I'll be interested in over the next two months.

  13. Joe S. - Mar 19, 2012 at 12:17 PM

    The thing to remember when talking about Harper is that the Nats come into their own in 2013. This is a transitional year. Last year was respectable; this year is competitive; next year (I hope) is for awesome. We don't need to put Harper, Lombardozzi, or the like in MLB this year before the September callups. In 2012, their development is more important than the Nats' W-L.

  14. Steady Eddie - Mar 19, 2012 at 12:17 PM

    Sunderland — generic neganon explains too, I trust your radar. Randomly annoying in either case.NatsJack — love it! Wonder if even if Harper does do CF they expect it as a couple of year thing until Brown or Goodwin or Perez is ready. Tho if Brown works that would be by next Spring, or not at all…

  15. Positively Half St. - Mar 19, 2012 at 12:22 PM

    Syracuse has its own slate of games for spring training:http://www.milb.com/news/article.jsp?ymd=20120301&content_id=26945194&vkey=pr_t552&fext=.jsp&sid=t552The only problem is that I don't know where to turn to find results of those games.+1/2St.

  16. Gonat - Mar 19, 2012 at 12:34 PM

    Steve, where are you this morning. Wake up. Get us some news! Any new trade news?

  17. NatsNut - Mar 19, 2012 at 1:03 PM

    @cease,yea, I'd wait til September too. But I'm 98.5% sure it will be May/June.

  18. Mark'd - Mar 19, 2012 at 1:11 PM

    Paging SteveM

  19. fast eddie - Mar 19, 2012 at 1:23 PM

    Rizzo seems content to let Ankiel/Bernie handle CF until Harper is ready, sometime this season or 2013. That's fine, assuming we get hitting elsewhere in the lineup.It's possible one of our other CF prospects (Brown/Goodwin?)could have a break-out year. If not, the fallback could still be sign a FA next winter (Bourn/Upton?)In any event, Rizzo is showing patience that we need to recognize even if we don't always agree.

  20. JamesFan - Mar 19, 2012 at 1:30 PM

    There are two Harpers right now. First, there is Harper as hyped. Best prospect ever, monster batting practice homers, media darling, incredible raw talent. Then there is Harper for real at this stage in his development: Starting to look ok in the outfield; considerable progress on baseball basics (hitting the cutoff man, etc); hitting did not dominate at AA last year; overmatched so far by ML pitching; hurt during last season and again in the spring.He needs to prove himself in AAA before they bring him up. If that takes the full year, so be it. The Nats should not bring this kid up into all this media glare and risk the whole fan base and the media turning on him if he falters, and that could easily happen after all the hype.

  21. Positively Half St. - Mar 19, 2012 at 1:35 PM

    I guess Corey Brown is going to learn to play a corner outfield spot in Syracuse, while Xavier Nady holds down the other.+1/2St.

  22. Steve M. - Mar 19, 2012 at 1:42 PM

    I was told about a trade for a RH outfielder. I'm not going to name names until its official. On to the Bryce Harper debate.

  23. Anonymous - Mar 19, 2012 at 1:44 PM

    Why not name names?

  24. fast eddie - Mar 19, 2012 at 1:46 PM

    Half St.:We may need Nady in LF if Morse can't answer the bell in April. The other option is deRosa.

  25. natsfan1a - Mar 19, 2012 at 1:47 PM

    Or mention it at all if no substantive information is to be provided.Anonymous said… Why not name names? March 19, 2012 9:44 AM

  26. sjm308 - Mar 19, 2012 at 1:49 PM

    I think this is going to work. Early on, Harper talked about Micky Mantlebeing one of his favorite players, and this has to have him excited. Instead of being disappointed about being sent down, he now has a reason to work even harder, learn another new position and once he comes up, he will stay. Love to hear NatsJack's approval on his jump and read on the ball and we know he has the arm as well. I am hoping it is sooner than later, the way our offense seems to be playing out but I can be patient for this type of player.Hate to discuss any anon here but the lack of verbage and use of obscure stats leads me to support Sunderland on anon 7:05. Looked through the actual sports page today and its funny that 1/2 of the news on other teams involves injuries or rehab. Polanco – sprained finger, Wada – tender elbow, Soria – elbow. We are not the Lone Ranger on difficulties in the spring. Hope to hear good news on Morse/LaRoche soon.Go Nats!

  27. Section 222 - Mar 19, 2012 at 1:51 PM

    [I]f he's really raking at Syr in June, and they need his bat (hard to imagine they wouldn't in that case), I'd expect they'd put him in right for a month or two to watch Werth in CF first. That seems right to me. (And the idea that the Nats might not need his bat once he gets it going is fanciful. This is not a fearsome lineup as it currently stands.) I don't expect him to rake in Syracuse right away though. A June callup, or later, seems more likely than end of April.These trade rumors are fascinating. I'll be hitting refresh often today.

  28. Anonymous - Mar 19, 2012 at 1:53 PM

    I don't think that the club is seriously thinking Harper's a CF. They're going to play him there at Cuse, but I think it's a long shot for him to end up a MLB CF. I think that this is something of a ploy to both keep Harper on a slower development track (and maybe avoid Super 2) and to make the market think that they are not so desperate for a long term CF via trade (and the training in CF is not going to hurt his skills at a corner OF spot at all, so no harm in running him around in CF for now at Cuse in any event). The kid has huge talent at the plate, and though he has good speed, he's not the rangy go get it guy they want in CF. CF is a glider's position, Harper's something much bulkier. They don't want the guy who might mash 45 HR's, if healthy, dinged up and not in the line up every day becasue they have him diving his 230 lb frame all over the place in CF day in and day out. The great power hitters generally play the corners for a reason. We'll see.dfh21

  29. Steve M. - Mar 19, 2012 at 1:59 PM

    A lot of tough reading and speculation on Bryce Harper this weekend. The hindsight rewriting of history by some is simply nauseating.Could Bryce play at the MLB level now? Yes**He could play but clearly wasn't ready to make an impact. Corey Brown could play too and so could Eury Perez.The key is to let these kids mature and work on their weaknesses.Bryce was not making the type of contact on the ball the entire Spring that Bryce normally makes until Saturday's game and on his last at-bat on Sunday (after 4 straight K's).Bryce may also be the CF of the future as it appears.One thing I noticed about Bryce is even without perfect contact that balls he is getting on top of that result in groundballs come off of his bat with much greater pop which will result in more base hits into holes. As I have said for a few weeks, let Bryce get comfortable in AAA and when he gets on a hot streak the next Managers call will be a promotion to the Nats.

  30. David - Mar 19, 2012 at 2:00 PM

    Ladies and gentlemen… your starting outfield for 2013. Brown LF, Harper CF, Werth RF.

  31. Mark'd - Mar 19, 2012 at 2:02 PM

    Steve, your a trade tease! Agreed, let it play out.

  32. sjm308 - Mar 19, 2012 at 2:04 PM

    dfh21: I am old and realize the game has changed but when you talk about great power hitters I have to think back to Mantle, Mays and Frank Robinson and I believe all of them were Centerfielders. I am guessing things have changed but who says Bryce won't be the fall back to what used to be. I also can't believe there is any kind of ploy going on. Rizzo is just not that kind of GM. Bowden spoke with forked tongue, Rizzo, not so much.

  33. A DC Wonk - Mar 19, 2012 at 2:04 PM

    Joe S. said… The thing to remember when talking about Harper is that the Nats come into their own in 2013. This is a transitional year. Last year was respectable; this year is competitive; next year (I hope) is for awesome. We don't need to put Harper, Lombardozzi, or the like in MLB this year before the September callups. In 2012, their development is more important than the Nats' W-L.Whoa! Dude! A fan who's thinking long-term? You're kind are pretty rare around these parts, partner! (And not always welcome ;-)But, I totally agree with you. With one caveat: if everything breaks the Nats way, they could be in the playoff hunt, in which case they might sacrifice a little of the long term plan to play post-season this year.But, generally speaking, you're right. Smart teams, smart GM's, not only think about this year, but the next five years. I think Rizzo is a very smart GM.

  34. PAY TO PLAY - Mar 19, 2012 at 2:07 PM

    Mark wrote this last week and guess what 2 of the #15's won: Verdict: Harper is clinging to some hopes of crashing the dance as Cinderella, but it still would be an upset of epic proportions (think 15-seed over 2-seed).

  35. A DC Wonk - Mar 19, 2012 at 2:14 PM

    sjm308 wrote:dfh21: I am old and realize the game has changed but when you talk about great power hitters I have to think back to Mantle, Mays and Frank Robinson and I believe all of them were Centerfielders. I am guessing things have changed but who says Bryce won't be the fall back to what used to be.As was Duke Snider, Griffey, Kirby Puckett…I also can't believe there is any kind of ploy going on. Rizzo is just not that kind of GM.Totally. (This is the second time this cockamamie theory has been mentioned that I've noticed). Why would anyone in the world want to slow the development of #1 draft pick who has upside-potential to be a superstar! Sheesh. The Nats only have to wait 21 days to get an extra year of control. The Nats have one of the top five pitching staffs of the NL, but need hitting. If Harper starts hitting well in AAA, he'll be called up, even if he's not finished learning CF.As the saying goes, and Davey's repeated it: a good bat will find its way into the lineup.

  36. Steve M. - Mar 19, 2012 at 2:16 PM

    Chase Utley has left Clearwater to visit with a knee specialist. For those who think the Nats have issues, the Phillies are without Howard, Polanco, now Utley, and Halladay is having velo issues.Good news for them is they have Jim Thome

  37. Theophilus - Mar 19, 2012 at 2:19 PM

    Don't jump to the conclusion that Harper can't/shouldn't play CF just because he's a big guy. Dale Murphy was big — 6'4", 210#; Josh Hamilton is huge — 6'5", 240#. Might not be ideal but maybe in the short-medium term better than Werth. Harper seems to have the range to play CF; in fact, reading the accounts, he has too much range, poaching on Werth's and others' territory.Even though it won't win the Nats a single game, I like the Syracuse outfield of Brown, Harper and Nady. There's a lot of depth there. Moore can play 1B until Marrero recovers and Harper comes up, Brown can slide into CF. They'll have a good season in Syracuse, Nats will be secure in the event of an injury, prospects will have an opportunity to develop and not be rushed.

  38. jcj5y - Mar 19, 2012 at 2:19 PM

    Aside from Harper's own development at the plate and in the field, I think the biggest factor in when he comes to DC isn't whether the team is winning or losing, but rather how well Ankiel and Bernadina are playing.At some point, if Ankiel/Bernadina are hitting a combined .240/.300/.350, everyone is going to think that Harper could beat that line. If, on the other hand, Ankiel really has figured something out this winter and has a decent start to the year (I don't hold out any hope for Bernadina to be anything other than his career numbers), the pressure to promote Harper won't be has high, regardless of wins and losses.

  39. DCJohn - Mar 19, 2012 at 2:22 PM

    Harper isn't going anywhere until he learns to hit off speed pitches. What was that old joke about a young ball player writing home: "Mom, camp is going great, but tomorrow they start throwing curve balls."Take all the time you need. We'll be here.

  40. Section 3, My Sofa - Mar 19, 2012 at 2:22 PM

    Frank played center some, earlier in his career, but he wasn't primarily a centerfielder. Junior was. Bonds* was, but only in Pittsburgh. Aaron, Ruth, Banks, The Jax, McCovey, Jimmy Foxx … a lot of infielders, come to think of it.

  41. PAY TO PLAY - Mar 19, 2012 at 2:22 PM

    Cole Hamels got shelled yesterday for 4 earned in 3 1/3 I believe.The Marlins look to be the healthiest of the NL East teams. Their lineup starts with Reyes, Bonifacio, Hanley, G.M. Stanton, G. Sanchez, LoMo, Buck, Infante

  42. NatsNuts - Mar 19, 2012 at 2:23 PM

    Mark Zuckerman wrote today: "But it was pretty clear all along his game wasn't polished enough to warrant a seat on the team's charter flight to Chicago in two weeks."Mark, why didn't you write this before? Again, 20/20 hindsight with a bold statement.Is it that you didn't think he was recognizing what a MLB changeup or curveball looked like?

  43. PAY TO PLAY - Mar 19, 2012 at 2:29 PM

    The Mets owners finally settled with the Madoff trustee.

  44. hmmm,... - Mar 19, 2012 at 2:33 PM

    DC john:"Take all the time you need. We'll be here."I'm down with that. i'm sure he needs more time than he wants, but that's 19 for you. if we're the ones who have to teach him patience, by waiting, so be it.

  45. Unkyd - Mar 19, 2012 at 2:37 PM

    Nuts: that's prettying where Mark, and pretty much the rest of us have been, all spring. Small group hoping, but this jives with what ive been reading, here…

  46. Unkyd - Mar 19, 2012 at 2:38 PM

    "prettying?!" hehe… Pretty much

  47. HHover - Mar 19, 2012 at 2:39 PM

    @DC WonkI don't think anybody wants to "slow his development"–there is a question of where and how best to develop him for the long term, which may be at odds with the eagerness of fans to see him in the majors.

  48. NatsNuts - Mar 19, 2012 at 2:42 PM

    Unkyd, nobody here specifically said the kid didn't belong until now. There were early observations that he wasn't hitting line drives while his teammates and Eury Perez were. He did look silly on some K's but so has Jayson Werth.Where did anyone say anything close to "it was pretty clear all along his game wasn't polished enough" until a couple of days ago?

  49. Anonymous - Mar 19, 2012 at 2:43 PM

    I think that there are Millions of reasons the club might not want Harper in DC until late June. They avoided Super 2 with Stras when there was no baseball reason to have him in the minors, why should we think that they are not hoping to do the same thing now with Harper?

  50. Sunderland - Mar 19, 2012 at 2:43 PM

    Compiled a list of all RH OF's who were in AAA or MLB last year. Eliminated all over 32 years of age, all earning more than $8M / season. Eliminated all with 2011 OBP under .336 and elimated all with a negative UZR. Eliminated all named Zimmerman, regardless of spelling, cause that would just be silly. Eliminated all that belong to the Nats (can't trade with ourselves) or who played DH more than 10 games last year. Eliminated Nyjer, Willingham, Byrd, Bonifacio, and all other ex-Nats. Eliminated ex-cons, Mitchell Reportees and drug suspensions. Eliminated 2011 All Stars (who are we kidding) and guys who were on the DL to close 2011. Eliminated Nancy-arms, Mendoza-bats, Butter-fingers and guys who drink beer in the clubhouse. Eliminated Mike Stanton, and Giancarlo too. Apparently we are trading for Melky Cabrera.

  51. PAY TO PLAY - Mar 19, 2012 at 2:44 PM

    Looks like the Post is beefing up its Nats staff.

  52. A DC Wonk - Mar 19, 2012 at 2:45 PM

    Steve M. said… Chase Utley has left Clearwater to visit with a knee specialist. For those who think the Nats have issues, the Phillies are without Howard, Polanco, now Utley, and Halladay is having velo issues.Yowza . . . we all knew the Phils were getting old, but this might be happening faster than we expected. (Utley 33, Howard 32, Polanco 36, Halliday almost 35)

  53. Steve M. - Mar 19, 2012 at 2:45 PM

    P2P, yep, James Wagner will be joining Adam Kilgore to cover the Nats full-time in June.

  54. Section 222 - Mar 19, 2012 at 2:54 PM

    @Sunderland — POTD. Brilliant!

  55. A DC Wonk - Mar 19, 2012 at 2:57 PM

    Last year I often crowed about the Nats' ages. After seeing that 7 of the 8 regular starting lineup of the Phils last year were 30+, I want to revisit the Nats, and pass around some kool-aid about the future:(age on Jun 30 2012)Here are some of our players 27 and under who already have significant MLB experience:RZ, LannEn, Flores, Clip: 27Ian, JZimm, Ross Det: 26Espinosa, MPHRod: 25Ramos, Storen: 24Lombo, Stras: 23That's quite a core of young MLB players!

  56. Steve M. - Mar 19, 2012 at 3:00 PM

    DC Wonk, the Phillies released Dontrelle Willis and Joel Pineiro over the weekend.Roy Halladay had a shoulder injury in 2004 that limited him some in 2004 and 2005. Other than that, he has been a durable workhorse.With all the mileage on that shoulder and elbow, not surprised that his velo is finally being affected.

  57. PAY TO PLAY - Mar 19, 2012 at 3:04 PM

    From Roy Halladay this week: "Yeah, I'm 34 and 2,500 innings, it does take a while to get going. I don't pay attention to that. The older you get, the more you throw, the longer it takes you to get yourself going. When I came up, I threw 98. Last year, I was throwing 92-93. It's not unusual. When you get older, it takes you longer. The more innings you throw, the more it takes to get yourself going again."

  58. Steve M. - Mar 19, 2012 at 3:10 PM

    According to Buster Olney, Galves is the Phillies replacement for Buster Olney.

  59. Steve M. - Mar 19, 2012 at 3:11 PM

    Let me say that again. Galves is the replacement for Chase Utley according to Buster Olney.

  60. Nats fan in NJ - Mar 19, 2012 at 3:12 PM

    And the post of the day goes to Sunderland!!

  61. NatsLady - Mar 19, 2012 at 3:19 PM

    @Sunderland– I am between jobs right now. (No, not unemployed, just checking in between my morning job and my afternoon/evening job). I laughed so hard at your post tears are streaming down my eyes. Really good one!

  62. Steve M. - Mar 19, 2012 at 3:22 PM

    Sunderland, why weren't the Nats taking that approach in 2008 when they got their star Leftfielder/1st Baseman/Catcher Paul LoDuca.Would have saved a lot of trouble for us all if they used your approach!

  63. NatsNut - Mar 19, 2012 at 3:32 PM

    I don't mean to look a gift horse in the mouth or anything, but is anyone else kinda tired of spring training too?

  64. Steve M. - Mar 19, 2012 at 3:36 PM

    Here were comments I made 11 days ago on Bryce:Steve M. said… Anonymous said… Harper's ready. He knows he's ready, Davey knows he's ready. The world knows he's ready. Kid can hit, kid has massive power. He's ready. March 08, 2012 1:03 PM Thanks for this post. There is no sure things. The kid knows he's ready is a given. 2 ground ball hits into open areas and a hustle infield single tells me very little so far except the kid hustles.Let me see some line drives hits and the power you speak of consistently. I believe its there but you don't want to rush him. Rizzo will do right by this kid and hope the kid shows us what he can do and be an impact player.To me, that's what its about. Making an impact and I'd rather it be in high OBP than swinging for the fences every time. March 08, 2012 1:46 PM

  65. Anonymous - Mar 19, 2012 at 3:40 PM

    "I don't think that the club is seriously thinking Harper's a CF. They're going to play him there at Cuse, but I think it's a long shot for him to end up a MLB CF. I think that this is something of a ploy to both keep Harper on a slower development track (and maybe avoid Super 2) and to make the market think that they are not so desperate for a long term CF via trade."What are you on and where can I get some?

  66. Steve M. - Mar 19, 2012 at 3:44 PM

    Here's what I wrote 11 days ago on Bryce Harper:Steve M. said… Anonymous said… Harper's ready. He knows he's ready, Davey knows he's ready. The world knows he's ready. Kid can hit, kid has massive power. He's ready. March 08, 2012 1:03 PM Thanks for this post. There is no sure things. The kid knows he's ready is a given. 2 ground ball hits into open areas and a hustle infield single tells me very little so far except the kid hustles.Let me see some line drives hits and the power you speak of consistently. I believe its there but you don't want to rush him. Rizzo will do right by this kid and hope the kid shows us what he can do and be an impact player.To me, that's what its about. Making an impact and I'd rather it be in high OBP than swinging for the fences every time. March 08, 2012 1:46 PM

  67. Section 3, My Sofa - Mar 19, 2012 at 3:45 PM

    Not so much tired of spring training as of most of the games not being televised, or having to listen to the opposition radio feed, and the same three arguments on Desmond, LannEn, and Harper. Spring is fine. Weather is great. Plenty of other teams on TV.

  68. NatsNuts - Mar 19, 2012 at 3:50 PM

    Steve M., my comments above weren't directed at you. You are most observant. Just like the commentor you were addressing on March 8th, what did he see to write that comment? Hagerstown in April doesn't count for much.Now you have commentors that are saying the kid didn't show much. Huh? Easy to say now.

  69. LoveDaNats - Mar 19, 2012 at 3:57 PM

    @NatsNut – I think the lack of true winter and early, early spring are part of why we are tired of spring training already. I, for one, am ready for some competition.Agree with Bryce spending time in AAA. I always figured he'd be there no matter how well he played due to the extra control the Nats needed to have. It is a business after all and it would be a poor business decision to bring him up now. I would like to see him develop properly and I'm in no hurry to have him brought up too soon.Although the rotation is awesome this year, I am concerned over the lack of hitting (except for Zim) by the guys who will be our starters. I hope if hitting is lackluster, Bryce is not looked at as the savior. I'd go with changing tactics in other areas, i.e.. Eckstein. I don't mean to pile on but hitting needs to improve and I wonder if another hitting coach might get better results. It sounds like Davey is coaching several of the guys now on hitting.

  70. Unkyd - Mar 19, 2012 at 4:01 PM

    Nuts: perhaps nobody uttered that sentence, but although there have been a few calls for him to make the opening day roster, nobody was offering odds in favor. You took a snarky, undeserved dig at Mark, and I called you on it. Find where Mark professed a belief that Bryce would make the 25, and I'll back off. No hindsight involved here… Nobody who was paying attention thought he'd come north, after not even having his way, at the plate in AA… You're being silly…

  71. Anonymous - Mar 19, 2012 at 4:01 PM

    Ahh, the tried and true "you must be high" retort to a post in Nats Insider. It never gets old, for some people.Harper's not a CF. This is stop-gap stuff. No one discussed the kid playing CF at all in pro ball until about 10 days ago. And part of Davey's rationale in having Harper get reps in CF now is to not have Werth in CF so much in order to keep Werth from getting dinged up from playing there everyday. So am I to believe that they are going to be OK with Harper getting those dings down the road as he comes into his own as a hitter in the bigs? Not likely. Harper's 6'3" 230 lb frame (and he's still growing) and his monster bat are not built for CF. Rizzo will go get a true CF (or one will emerge from the organization) at some point before 2013 starts and Harper might be a nice stop-gap guy to play CF. He's a corner OF if ever there was one.dfh21

  72. Anonymous - Mar 19, 2012 at 4:07 PM

    Sorry dfh21. Need to remove the ambiguity."I think that this is something of a ploy to both keep Harper on a slower development track (and maybe avoid Super 2) and to make the market think that they are not so desperate for a long term CF via trade."New seriuously, what are you on and where can I get some?

  73. natsfan1a - Mar 19, 2012 at 4:09 PM

    This (and I enjoy it a lot more than no games being played). Hang in there, folks. You gotta take 'em one at a time. It's a marathon, not a sprint. Before you know it, you'll be watching in the bigs. yada. yada. yada. :-)Section 3, My Sofa said… Not so much tired of spring training as of most of the games not being televised, or having to listen to the opposition radio feed, and the same three arguments on Desmond, LannEn, and Harper. Spring is fine. Weather is great. Plenty of other teams on TV. March 19, 2012 11:45 AM

  74. blovy8 - Mar 19, 2012 at 4:16 PM

    Everything is just spin. Now DJ is saying playing CF too much would "beat up" Werth? So why beat up Harper with that demanding position? The guy already gets his share of strains, sprains, and such. Harper barely knows where to be himself out there and he's supposed to direct the other outfielders, and take charge like a normal CF? It was only a few days ago we were hearing about how impressive Corey Brown was there, so he's relegated to a corner in AAA? It doesn't make a lot of sense really, it sounds like spring training BS. You also have Perez with a good spring and a promotion to AA. I still think center will be someone else's job in 2013, the best this experiment will do is allow them to shift guys around depending on who can run without a limp on game day later this summer. Nady is a nice addition that costs them nothing, I don't see how anyone could complain about that. I second the idea of Damon as a stopgap if Morse's situation should actually be serious. Damon will sign wherever the atbats are at this point, and his price has probably come down. His rag arm won't be any worse than Morse's awkward approaches to tough plays in left.

  75. Tom in AR - Mar 19, 2012 at 4:18 PM

    Harper may come up at CF, but I don't think he will make a career there. Right now he has great speed, but as he fills out I think he will eventually move to the corner. Especially if one of our CF prospects pans out or if we find one in free agency in the future.

  76. Mark'd - Mar 19, 2012 at 4:18 PM

    Unkyd, I sort of a agree with Nuts. Strong language by Mark now and calls previously that Harper was a Cinderella longshot. Most commentary was on the Super 2 implications and not on him being overmatched until—-Now.SteveM was on the right track 11 days ago when the prevailing wind was certainly blowing in the other direction that BHarper deserved the Opening Day RF.

  77. Mark'd - Mar 19, 2012 at 4:21 PM

    blovy8 and Tom with really good points. It changes daily in Davey's mind.

  78. Anonymous - Mar 19, 2012 at 4:22 PM

    Ahh, the DOUBLE DOWN on the you must be high . . .OK, so you cut out the language I had in there to start that — "I don't think that the club is seriously thinking Harper's a CF. They're going to play him there at Cuse, but I think it's a long shot for him to end up a MLB CF." — and go with the a touch out of context theory on the "something of a ploy" as to the reasoning behind the move as having to come from the mind of someone high? Is it completely high to think that the Nats might want to avoid Harper reaching Super Two — as someone, maybe you, pointed out above, they did so with Stras when there was no reason to keep him on the farm? (Might be a $10M extra 7-8 weeks of service time. And does Rizzo have any interest in having his counterparts at other clubs thinking that the Nats have another option beyond Ankiel and Bernadina to man CF down the road this season and perhaps beyond? I think maybe he does. Maybe both thoughts are out there, fair enough, but at least they are not so lame and lazy as "Dude, you must be smoking something!". dfh21

  79. Feel Wood - Mar 19, 2012 at 4:22 PM

    No one discussed the kid playing CF at all in pro ball until about 10 days ago.So those 20 games he played in center last year in the minors (pro ball, the last time I looked), no one ever discussed those? He just wandered out there when the team took the field and the coaches and the rest of the organization said "whatever"? Someone alert JayB. That's a worse transgression than Desmond talking to his HS coach!

  80. Sunderland - Mar 19, 2012 at 4:25 PM

    I don't know about trying to slow down Harper's development, but dfh21 opining that talking about Harper playing CF does indeed make sense for a team that other mght feel needs a CF. If Rizzo is thinking of trading for a CF, you want to start negotiations from a position of strength. And saying 'we have in house candidates we are comfortable with", and saying "Harper's gonna play CF in AAA" all help the negotiating position.Keep in mind, it is spring training, and he's not logging many innings. All that has happened so far is "talk" about Harper in CF.

  81. Unkyd - Mar 19, 2012 at 4:32 PM

    Nuts & Mark'd: I'm just going on the gist of the blog, as I recall from reading every day. I just don't recall anybody making the case that he's ready for the bigs, at least not so strongly that chastisement over hindsight was called for… I could be wrong….

  82. sm13 - Mar 19, 2012 at 4:41 PM

    The issue of Harper as a long term CF will sort iself out based on his performance in AAA and in the bigs this summer. Of more immediate concern is Morse's health and whether he'll be ready for opening day. The fewer games he plays in, the further he'll be from game shape. And, he really needed more reps in left field to improve his play out there. Lastly, i ask again, why hasn't Drew pitched in more than a week?

  83. RPrecupjr - Mar 19, 2012 at 4:41 PM

    Sec 3, not to quibble, but B*nds was only a CF his rookie season, 110 games. He plaed 46 there the next season but only 15 more the rest of his career. I'm not sure that qualifies as "primarily". And I'm probably just being picky because it's Monday, my bracket went to hell over the weekend and Morse is hurt :/

  84. NatsNuts - Mar 19, 2012 at 4:45 PM

    Unkyd, the mantra "Best 25 Go North" was formed for Harper and the 5th rotation spot.Most here thought Harper would be fully ready (including me) and the only thing holding him back was the 22 day Super 2 deadline. Read through all the pages and find anyone critical of Harper's play except one baserunning blunder, his K's and yesterday's K-fest and Steve M's comments he pasted.

  85. Anonymous - Mar 19, 2012 at 4:45 PM

    Feelwood – You know that not since Harper was drafted did Rizzo or Riggleman or Johnson or Boras or Harper himself talk about CF as the postion of the future for Harper. But, my bad, I sould have been more precise; I should have typed "MLB" instead of "pro ball." I was not talking about 20 games of Harper's fleeting A ball career, I was talking about Harper's hopefully very long MLB career. dfh21

  86. Steady Eddie - Mar 19, 2012 at 4:45 PM

    Even apart from the short term, "when does the kid come up?" question, this whole Harper-to-CF raises an interesting Nats futures issue. Clearly there's no CF in the minors who's ready to come up now, and only Corey Brown raises the tantalizing possibility of being ready next year. More likely we're talking about Brown or Perez or Goodwin or maybe maybe Michael Taylor (as a long shot) being MLB ready in 2014. So it's possible that the Harper-to-CF thing is covering their bets. Gives the Nats a CF until probably end of 2013, and depending on how both Harper and the best likely prospect look in CF, gives the Nats the option of moving one or another over to LF (assuming Morse will move to 1B next year).

  87. Anonymous - Mar 19, 2012 at 4:49 PM

    Nuts, good point. Typical journalism piling on. They are doing it in Denver today. TEBOW went from savior to being run out of town by journalists out there now that Peyton Manning is there.

  88. Anonymous - Mar 19, 2012 at 4:59 PM

    Also Mark wrote "And he crushed a double off the batter's eye in center field yesterday against the Tigers (though that hit came in the ninth inning off nondescript Class AAA lefty Matt Hoffman)."Funny, according to Jim Leyland's morning press briefing he specifically addressed Matt Hoffman that he will probably pitch in Detroit this season. He's been AAA but highly touted. Sure, it wasn't off of Venters, but impressive none the less especially lefty/lefty. It certainly gives Bryce a good place to move forward.

  89. PAY TO PLAY - Mar 19, 2012 at 5:00 PM

    Giancarlo "Mike" Stanton had a knee injury and probably won't be ready for Opening Day.

  90. Feel Wood - Mar 19, 2012 at 5:01 PM

    Feelwood – You know that not since Harper was drafted did Rizzo or Riggleman or Johnson or Boras or Harper himself talk about CF as the postion of the future for Harper. But, my bad, I sould have been more precise; I should have typed "MLB" instead of "pro ball." I was not talking about 20 games of Harper's fleeting A ball career, I was talking about Harper's hopefully very long MLB career. dfh21I have no idea what those guys discussed among themselves as to where Harper might play during his pro career. But then again, neither do you. One would think, though, that CF might be a possible position for him if they're sending him out there while he's being developed, wouldn't one? They don't do such things on a whim (okay, Riggleman does, but he's gone) or you'd be seeing Harper playing games at second, short, third, or even pitching the odd inning of relief now and then, wouldn't you?

  91. Unkyd - Mar 19, 2012 at 5:01 PM

    Okay. I'm in the minority… I guess my own opinion that, as much as I 'd love to see him come up, he won't be here, until he gains a clue about leftys, and can pick up a breaking ball, was the prevailing wisdom. I stand corrected. Honestly, it just has seemed so obvious to me, but I guess if I'm not on record, that makes me a hind-seeing revisionist historian. I'll stand down…

  92. PAY TO PLAY - Mar 19, 2012 at 5:06 PM

    Rizzo and Davey are navigating through who they have and who they see as the future outfield. Most likely Morse goes to 1st base next year which leave you with Harper and Werth as corner outfielders.This June it may be Morse LF, Harper CF and Werth in RF. That makes sense in the short term and doesn't necessarily mean that is the long-term configuration but that greatly depends on how Bryce Harper does defensively in CF.

  93. Mark'd - Mar 19, 2012 at 5:11 PM

    Unkyd, if you felt that way and didn't say anything than saying it now does make you look like how you described it. Let it rest.

  94. HHover - Mar 19, 2012 at 5:11 PM

    Anon @ 12:59How to tell it's a slow news day in Natstown … when you're nitpicking the adjective Mark uses in a parenthetical comment.

  95. MicheleS - Mar 19, 2012 at 5:16 PM

    Some thought he might make, some thought he would not make. We can all nit pick the details. I think ALL of us saw the 21 days/Super Two a very good reason to send him down (althougth I don't think Super Two was as big of a consideration as the 21 days). Can he use a little seasoning, sure, but if he rips it up in 'Cuse, he will be here really fast!

  96. Unkyd - Mar 19, 2012 at 5:17 PM

    No game today… I'm a little testy….. Need some cliches….gulp….BANG!!! As you were…..

  97. jcj5y - Mar 19, 2012 at 5:17 PM

    From December 2010, after the Nats signed Werth:"Rizzo said Harper will begin taking some of his fly balls in center field. Harper has the athleticism to do pretty much whatever he wants on a baseball field, and the Nationals would be comfortable with him playing some center field in his first professional season."http://voices.washingtonpost.com/nationalsjournal/2010/12/how_jayson_werth_affects_bryce.htmlI don't think anyone envisions Harper as a centerfielder when he's 26-27, but he's got plus speed right now, and if he can learn the position, maybe he can play there for a few years.

  98. NatsJack in Florida - Mar 19, 2012 at 5:23 PM

    Actually, Davey Johnson is having lunch with his wife at 310 on Park Ave. in our hometown of Winter Park as we post

  99. Anonymous - Mar 19, 2012 at 5:24 PM

    Harper as a potential CF was discussed as far back as last spring… Keith law had a chat where he indicated that trout was the better prospect b/c he was a CF, but that he had heard from some scouts who thought Harper had a chance to play CF at a really high level defensively… The caveat being he hadn't done it yet (he also said that if harper can handle CF, he was clearly a better prospect than trout at that point). When harper was drafted, this reputation got out that he was going to grow into this huge hulking kind of player, almost like a new adam dunn. But a lot of observers did not realize just how athletic the kid is… In the Arizona fall league, the scouting service guys were tweeting his out of the box splits and he was easily in the CF range. Supposedly, a corner OF position is supposed to be easier, speeding a prospects development. With werth in right, that would slide harper into left, so that he could hit the big leagues far quicker than if he had stayed at catcher. But until he grows out of the ability to play CF, there really is no reason not to try him there, especially since he seems to have a natural grasp of the angles needed to play the position.

  100. Nattily Clad - Mar 19, 2012 at 5:32 PM

    I have been surprised by how many people, on this site and others, proclaimed Harper ready for the big leagues, with very little evidence to support the proclamation.I would ask people if Harper is a 5-tool player? Did he really hit for average in the minors? Did he hit with power in ST? Does he have an Ichiro/Vlad arm, or more like a Wilkerson arm? Is he fast enough to steal bases for the Nationals–I mean is he close to being the fastest guy on our team, much less in the NL? Does have an amazing glove like Zimm or Bernadina or even Willie Harris?Is it possible his big complicated swing has a big hole in it?His Namath comments and Redskins comments got more coverage than his GQ comments, but it is really smart for a kid to be telling reporters that, on double-plays or steals, he wants to destroy the infielder and send him into left field? Is this going to play well when he crushes Jeter on a routine DP this summer? Does he understand major leaguers have 1,000 ways to hurt a punk who gives interviews about physically punishing opposing players? I like Harper. I do. But I have serious concerns about him, on and off the field.

  101. Anonymous - Mar 19, 2012 at 5:33 PM

    Feelwood — I actually DO know everything that was ever discussed by Nats management on Harper's future position. Every thought on how they saw him that was ever vocalized, I know. Even the weird ones like "How will he look in the silver Elvis wig?" (Mike Rizzo) and "Should we all get tricked-out cars with the same rims Bryce has?" (Ted Lerner). I have it all catalogued and indexed. And never was a word spoken that had Bryce Harper playing his career as an every day big-league CF. Trust me. Best 25 go North!dfh21

  102. Wally - Mar 19, 2012 at 5:35 PM

    I agree with Anon@1:24 right up to the last paragraph. I think CF is easier from the standpoint of the reads and angles, but harder from the perspective of covering ground. Harper has been quoted several times as saying it is 'easier' for him in CF, and I think that is what he is referring to. Covering the extra ground is also why Werth, at 33, can get worn down by playing it but it is a lesser risk for a 19 yr old kid in superb shape. I posted yesterday that it is far from given that he can play CF in the big leagues, but now that he is acclimated to pro ball, why not see if he can handle it? He doesn't need to be a plus defender there, just average or even slightly below average. At a minimum, it creates a bridge to Taylor/Goodwin/Perez as the CF in 2014/5 and more roster flexibility.Now, SteveM, as for those Lannan rumors: were you happy with what you heard?

  103. PAY TO PLAY - Mar 19, 2012 at 5:37 PM

    Must be a slow day in Florida, NatsJack is giving us Davey's lunch schedule and nothing on where John Lannan is.

  104. Anonymous - Mar 19, 2012 at 5:41 PM

    dfh21 said…"Feelwood — I actually DO know everything that was ever discussed by Nats management on Harper's future position. Every thought on how they saw him that was ever vocalized, I know. Even the weird ones like "How will he look in the silver Elvis wig?" (Mike Rizzo) and "Should we all get tricked-out cars with the same rims Bryce has?" (Ted Lerner). I have it all catalogued and indexed. And never was a word spoken that had Bryce Harper playing his career as an every day big-league CF. Trust me."With your previous responses to what was intended as light-hearted "being on drugs" jab to your suggestion that the Nats might be intentionally slowing Harper's development(perhaps I should have inserted smilies), I had begun to think you didn't have a sense of humor.The above post proves that you have one hell of a sense of humor.

  105. Anonymous - Mar 19, 2012 at 5:42 PM

    Just because scouts say he has the tools to play a position (Nats manegment thinks Desmond can play SS to this very day — that tells you how much they might be worth) does not mean he'll play there. They were looking for places to put him other than C last year and some random thoughts "maybe he could play center, he's got the speed" is not the stuff that gets him there as a course of action that makes any sense. (BTW, Mike Trout is about 6'1, 200 and is a speed demon, not a big power guy — different animal). COULD Harper play CF, probably. Would it be smart to take a 230 lb guy as offensively gifted as this kid is and run him around like mad in CF, no. It aint gonna happen. He'll play some games there but it just makes no sense to not have him play a corner.

  106. Feel Wood - Mar 19, 2012 at 5:49 PM

    dfh21, I pray for your buttocks and for your family.

  107. Anonymous - Mar 19, 2012 at 5:52 PM

    Feelwood — Rizzo made that same statement verbatim on 4 occasions. See All Words Spoken by Nats Management on Player Development Index pps 223, 452, 789 and 1,213. Except he was talking about Dukes.dfh21

  108. Anonymous - Mar 19, 2012 at 5:53 PM

    I pray for you buttocks and your family? wtf What's that about?

  109. Anonymous - Mar 19, 2012 at 5:56 PM

    "Just because scouts say he has the tools to play a position does not mean he'll play there."I have the tools to be a carpenter. Anybody want me to build them a house?

  110. Anonymous - Mar 19, 2012 at 6:00 PM

    I am sure Harper could play Third and pitch, too. Maybe work in the booth with Charlie and Dave. Sing the anthem . . . He could do a lot of things for a club.

  111. Steve M. - Mar 19, 2012 at 6:03 PM

    NatsJack in Florida said… Thoughts on the past five weeks…..Bryce is clearly not ready for a steady diet of ML pitching. It was great to see him finally barrel up a ball in the 9th today but has been woefully over matched in most of his at bats.He will be fine as a center fielder as he has shown a natural ability to read balls off the bat and the ability to track them. And his arm is terrific.Rendon will advance quickly through the system and should be in Syracuse well before most people expect. His arm is not a problem and he could even spend time at shortstop.My favorite is Tyler Moore. He just might be that big gorilla Davey wants coming off the bench. Jis swing plane is short, powerful and quick to the ball. And he actually handles himself well around firstbase.And for any yeahoo who thinks scores of ST games mean anything, I just shake my head in shear disbelief.More on Matt Purke later. March 18, 2012 7:08 PM NatsJack, great stuff. I'm with you on your analysis. My biggest surprise this Spring was Eury Perez. He went from a great Dominican Winter ball season in 2010/2011 to a disappointing 2011 Minor League season and fell back in prospect status. The kid added muscle this winter and was the one hitting the line drives this Spring. Glad he will be starting in AA and hoping his good Spring will just continue into AA. Worried about him swinging at balls out of the strike zone as he will need to work on taking walks and cutting down on the K's to succeed. The kid has speed and a surprisingly good arm.Purke, like I said before. Great looking pitcher and love his attitude on the mound. Took good direction after his start against Georgetown where he had an inconsistent release point which cost him in his 2nd start as the veterans pick up on telegraphing pitches. He improved the next start and will continue to improve. A top prospect from what I am seeing. Top of the rotation lefty stuff.Corey Brown with a nice comeback to show what he has. Personally, he is the guy I would have kept longer in ST. The kid showed top defense and arm and power but needs better jumps on balls from RH hitters. He also has plus speed. If he can hit for average in Syracuse, he could be back in DC if Ankiel can't get the job done (not on 40 man).Lombardozzi certainly is showing he wants to compete for playing time. His 3 hit game against the Yankees really got me to take notice. I've had him in my roster for a while now anyway and he will be the guy in the wings if Desi and Espi hit some slumps.

  112. natsfan1a - Mar 19, 2012 at 6:05 PM

    Or arguing about which commenter(s) did or did not see all along that Harper would or would not be ready for – wait – would or would not be able to – wait, I'm getting confused. At any rate, what does it matter who thought or didn't think what when – uh-oh, I'm getting confused again. Maybe I'll just have a nice cool beverage and relax instead. Yeah, that sounds good.HHover said… Anon @ 12:59 How to tell it's a slow news day in Natstown … when you're nitpicking the adjective Mark uses in a parenthetical comment. March 19, 2012 1:11 PM

  113. natsfan1a - Mar 19, 2012 at 6:07 PM

    Wait, dfh is an indexer, too? That is teh awesomes!1Anonymous said… Feelwood — I actually DO know everything that was ever discussed by Nats management on Harper's future position. Every thought on how they saw him that was ever vocalized, I know. Even the weird ones like "How will he look in the silver Elvis wig?" (Mike Rizzo) and "Should we all get tricked-out cars with the same rims Bryce has?" (Ted Lerner). I have it all catalogued and indexed. And never was a word spoken that had Bryce Harper playing his career as an every day big-league CF. Trust me. Best 25 go North! dfh21 March 19, 2012 1:33 PM

  114. natsfan1a - Mar 19, 2012 at 6:10 PM

    dfh, see also the Off the Wall Comments by a Former GM index.Anonymous said… I pray for you buttocks and your family? wtf What's that about? March 19, 2012 1:53 PM

  115. Anonymous - Mar 19, 2012 at 6:14 PM

    Ken Rosenthal tweeting on Lannan. Nothing new. Tigers & Red Sox blah blah.

  116. Anonymous - Mar 19, 2012 at 6:14 PM

    KLaw the ultimate Nats cynic … beyond even JayB thinks Harper can handle CF. That should be good enough for this crowd.And its not like Rizzo and Davey don't have other options … and methinks that was what Davey was out to prove to Mike Rizzo and the FO. Stop looking outside for outfield help we have what we need here …Now a true impact left-handed bat to play first base? Like Fielder? No, they do not have that and its the true huge hole in this picture. And unless Matt Skole exceeds expectations they don't have it in the minors either.

  117. Tcostant - Mar 19, 2012 at 6:14 PM

    I really believe this is all about Werth not wanting to play CF for extended periods. A game here and there, fine. But 100 games in CF didn't interest him. Sad, but when you have a guy under contract for 6 more years at over $100 million left, you have to listen. And a no trade clause to boot. What a bad deal!

  118. Section 3, My Sofa - Mar 19, 2012 at 6:18 PM

    I pray for you buttocks and your family? wtf What's that about?I can tell you're new around these parts. If you'd been here long, you'd know that someone is going to bust your chops for that redundancy. We're pretty abcessive about these things.

  119. Anonymous - Mar 19, 2012 at 6:19 PM

    My favorite is Tyler Moore. He just might be that big gorilla Davey wants coming off the bench.Possible starting left-fielder if they decide to trade Morse … which at this point seems highly unlikely … but if Morse gets injured … (I know somewhere out there Luke Erickson AKA Sue Dinem is shaking his head in disbelief at this notion.) still think first base is what Davey is reserving for his left-handed bat in the middle of the order. I can't see LaRoche on this team past July … and Lance Berkman is an FA next year. Then there's Votto.

  120. PAY TO PLAY - Mar 19, 2012 at 6:23 PM

    Tcostant, you could be right that Werth doesn't want to play CF. On the other stuff, water under the bridge and money down the toilet. Can't change it and the Nats have to hope Werth gives them positive WAR in RF and is serviceable. 6 more years.

  121. Gardner - Mar 19, 2012 at 6:28 PM

    Just got back from a 4 game bender down in Viera. Have to agree with NatsJack on his evals of the young talent. I was personally blow away with how good Lombardozzi looked. With him at short vs. Desmond those routine grinders felt more routine and he didn't dissapoint with the stick. As good as I thought Lombo looked I was shocked at how bad Werth looked at the plate – totally lost.

  122. Anonymous - Mar 19, 2012 at 6:28 PM

    I think everyone decided that what Harper (and Corey Brown remember him?) needed was some competition in AAA with major leaguer Xavier Nady. Throw in Jesus Valdez who also has a bat and it gets pretty interesting. Looks like Curran and his left-handed bat is the odd man out and headed for Harrisburg to work along side Eury Perez and Destin Hood. And Hood could suddenly go on a tear. This should bring Brown and Harper's game up … both are superior to all the others down there. Harper thinks he can do anything and has no fear. Brown has been suffering from self-doubt … but he has his bud Tyler Moore back with him now hitting behind him in the lineup. Team chemistry in Syracuse and their record may be more interesting to observe than Harper's progression. Because Nady wants back into the big leagues … and Brown wants to make it … ??? So, Mark I disagree … it all depends on performance. If things look bleak offensively the FO might just reach down for Nady or even Brown before Harper if the bat isn't there yet? And then Harper might see Destin Hood promoted to play next to him. Hood also has the athleticism to play CF. And Perez, if he brings that OBP up. Harper now has A LOT OF competition. It won't be easy for him to get back to Washington he will now almost have to hit .400 with a healthy iso to get back to the majors. IMO that's a good thing.

  123. NatinBeantown - Mar 19, 2012 at 6:30 PM

    Anyone else tracking Mark's flight status so that he can arrive in Florida, post what he wrote on the plane, and put this comment string out of its misery?

  124. Anonymous - Mar 19, 2012 at 6:34 PM

    It was only a few days ago we were hearing about how impressive Corey Brown was there, so he's relegated to a corner in AAA? It doesn't make a lot of sense really, it sounds like spring training BS. You also have Perez with a good spring and a promotion to AA.According to Johnson Brown and Harper are going to alternate. They are both the two best outfielders in the system right now … and the best two left-handed bats … that's the difference Blovy8. Johnson wants left-handed bats and it works best if they come with gloves. Brown and Harper are the best two options he has in the minors … for now he goes with Ankiel and Bernadina hoping their bats will wake up this season … but its more likely they won't … The Nats are hedging their bets … can you blame them?

  125. Unkyd - Mar 19, 2012 at 6:35 PM

    Amen, Beans….

  126. natsfan1a - Mar 19, 2012 at 6:36 PM

    Wish NORAD had a Mark tracker but all they have is a Santa tracker. :-(

  127. Anonymous - Mar 19, 2012 at 6:37 PM

    NatinBeanTown,Look to your immediate left in the browser window. There are several very good blogs you could be looking at instead of this one? That's the thing about this blog: too much whining and gnashing of teeth like a bunch of old bides … sheesh!

  128. Anonymous - Mar 19, 2012 at 6:38 PM

    wait a sec….is Mark actually SANTA?

  129. NatinBeantowm - Mar 19, 2012 at 6:41 PM

    Anon 2:38. I can say that I have never seen the two of them in the same room.Anon 2:37. Sadly, read many of them and then came back. Need content! Feed the content monster!

  130. NatsLady - Mar 19, 2012 at 6:41 PM

    Sorry for the late question, but when they signed Xavier Nady to a minor league contract with "no outs," what does that mean? Thanks.

  131. natsfan1a - Mar 19, 2012 at 6:44 PM

    Seeing as how we're confessing and all, I read Sheinin (filling in for Kilgore), Comak, and Ladson. But this is my #1 choice.

  132. natsfan1a - Mar 19, 2012 at 6:46 PM

    He does seem to know when we've been naughty, but I'm thinking maybe it's a case of mistaken identity. wait a sec….is Mark actually SANTA?

  133. A DC Wonk - Mar 19, 2012 at 6:50 PM

    Gardner said:As good as I thought Lombo looked I was shocked at how bad Werth looked at the plate – totally lost….Uggh . . . that certainly is pretty depressing news . . .

  134. baseballswami - Mar 19, 2012 at 6:51 PM

    Catching up from the day. I am also tired of spring training games that are hard to find on radio or tv, the harper, desi and lannan situations – and not knowing what players I have to warm up to yet. I need time, you know. I can't just like them straight from another team. Well, except for Gio – that was pretty easy. I was worried about the tweaks that our guys have until I realized that all of the other teams have them, too. Heal up guys and eat your wheaties!!!!

  135. Anonymous - Mar 19, 2012 at 6:52 PM

    I guess Corey Brown is going to learn to play a corner outfield spot in Syracuse, while Xavier Nady holds down the other.Its going to be Nady, Valdez, Brown, and Harper plus Tyler Moore with time in left-field. There's also Xavier Paul. That's 3 lefties and 3 righties. Not sure where they would fit any of the outfielders they might release that are currently on the ST roster given that? Someone gets released I expect.

  136. Anonymous - Mar 19, 2012 at 6:53 PM

    Sorry for the late question, but when they signed Xavier Nady to a minor league contract with "no outs," what does that mean? Thanks.Huge compliment to the Nats. Most veterans like Nady ask for an out clause when they sign a minor league contract. If they aren't in the majors by a certain point … say June … they can be released.

  137. Anonymous - Mar 19, 2012 at 7:00 PM

    Apparently we are trading for Melky Cabrera.Well this makes MORE sense for a trade than Steve M's assertion that its a right handed bat. I don't believe LaRoche is going to be "okay". Another injury after almost an entire season recovering from surgery? Morse I believe as he always has some sort of pull early in the spring had one last year and the year before as I recall. But LaRoche? Ankiel? Bernadina?The Nats HAVE NO LEFT HANDED BAT. Cabrera would give them what they need and he can play CF.

  138. RPrecupjr - Mar 19, 2012 at 7:02 PM

    Hmmm….just wondering (and hoping it never comes to this) but has any team ever started two Xaviers in the same outfield? Or even on the same field?

  139. Natstract - Mar 19, 2012 at 7:05 PM

    Mark is at a huge disadvantage when Comcast sends him home mid ST.It doesn't help his Blog as he lacks any commentary from Davey and players and Rizzo and true eyes on the game.I'm glad Mark got some feedback even if it was negative as his comments lacked depth and I wasn't buying it. Good points also by the person who commented on the relief pitcher.There's luckily an All Star cast of commenters here but if Mark's employer won't allow him to do his job there are other blogs. WAPO is actually adding to their coverage.

  140. Erik - Mar 19, 2012 at 7:05 PM

    For all of you "experts" saying that Harper should be playing a corner outfield position and is only a stopgap in CF…didn't a very large in stature CF in Los Angeles just win back to back gold gloves in CF??? Isn't our CF right now just as big as Harper??? Was Kirby Puckett built like a CF??? Didn't Mickey Mantle weigh 200 lbs. at 5'11"??? Harper has all the tools to be a fantastic CF. If they were worried about the stress on his body, they would put him at 1B.

  141. Theophilus - Mar 19, 2012 at 7:09 PM

    Possibly two Javiers.

  142. NatsNut - Mar 19, 2012 at 7:17 PM

    Hey 1a,It matters to me who said what, but only because I was right. hee hee_______________NatsNut said… I'll just say this now and save ya'll a bunch of angst and arguing. No way in heck does Bryce Harper come north with the big boys out of spring training. It's not happening. You're welcome. January 25, 2012 8:06 PM

  143. Anonymous - Mar 19, 2012 at 7:20 PM

    Hmmm….just wondering (and hoping it never comes to this) but has any team ever started two Xaviers in the same outfield? Or even on the same field? Here's a whole team of Xaviers!

  144. Sunderland - Mar 19, 2012 at 7:20 PM

    Here's hoping for post number 200 and death to this thread. We need some actual baseball.

  145. NatsNut - Mar 19, 2012 at 7:21 PM

    Something tells me that the timing of Harper's demotion and the uncharacteristically specific pronouncement that he'll play CF in AAA has something to do with some kind of trade negotiation. It's also why anything on Morse's injury has been hush-hush.

  146. Section 222 - Mar 19, 2012 at 7:21 PM

    Huge compliment to the Nats. Most veterans like Nady ask for an out clause when they sign a minor league contract. If they aren't in the majors by a certain point … say June … they can be released. Actually, doesn't an out clause mean that the team has to release the player so he can sign elsewhere if he isn't called up to the majors by a certain date? Kind of like what JC Romero had with the Nats when he signed last year. With Nady (because there is no out clause), the Nats can release him if they want to but if they want to keep him in the minors all year they can do that.

  147. Anonymous - Mar 19, 2012 at 7:21 PM

    WAPO is actually adding to their coverage.Addition by subtraction by firing Kilgore?

  148. Anonymous - Mar 19, 2012 at 7:30 PM

    In USA Today sports journalist's awards, Kilgore got #2 in all Beat reporters. Don't ask me how.

  149. Sunderland - Mar 19, 2012 at 7:45 PM

    Annibal Sanchez, Marlins, today's line, 2.2 IP, 7H, 6ER, pre-season ERA now at 11.57.Yu Darvish on MLB-TV in 15 minutes, 4PM ET.

  150. Theophilus - Mar 19, 2012 at 7:47 PM

    Can only find eight players named Javier in MLB — including first names and surnames. Guess the Jesuits weren't very big in Latin America.

  151. Anonymous - Mar 19, 2012 at 7:47 PM

    harpers swing has gotten progressively worse since joining the nats,watch his videos from high school if you dont believe me.

  152. Section 222 - Mar 19, 2012 at 7:55 PM

    Anonymous @3:21 said… WAPO is actually adding to their coverage. Addition by subtraction by firing Kilgore? Anonymous @3:30 said… In USA Today sports journalist's awards, Kilgore got #2 in all Beat reporters. Don't ask me how. I really don't understand why people beat up on Kilgore, and it's pretty bush league in my opinion. Sure he makes alot of typos in his posts, but that's a minor flaw compared to all his attributes, among which are (1) he works his butt off and does alot of posting on NJ, (2) his posts are not just duplicates of the articles he writes for the paper, (3) he seems to genuinely like his job and want to cover the Nats, and (4) he's funny as heck in his tweets. I for one am very glad that he was down in Viera for the whole spring, especially when Mark came home. And I'm glad that the Post is adding another beat writer. The team and its fans certainly deserve more coverage. I'd comment alot more over at NJ if the interface were as clean and easy NI's is.Those anonymi who think that they are scoring brownie points with Mark by knocking one of his competitors obviously missed his pointed reminders that he and the other beat writers are friends and respect each others' skills.

  153. NatsLady - Mar 19, 2012 at 7:59 PM

    Back to my Nady question. Does his contract override the CBA?New CBA Clause Alters Terms Of Select Minor League ContractsNotice that Nady is listed under the Nationals as being affected.

  154. MicheleS - Mar 19, 2012 at 8:12 PM

    Sec 222.. AMEN.. the more coverage the better. Remember, it's good to appeal to ALL types, (not just us Hard Core people). I mean.. we have to fill up the bandwagon some how (and block out those obnoxious Philly fan's tooo)

  155. Section 222 - Mar 19, 2012 at 8:13 PM

    Fascinating NatsLady. Sure sounds like Nady's "huge compliment" to the Nats got taken away by the new CBA. As the article you linked to says: "In the past, Article XX(B) free agents had to negotiate their own opt-out dates for their unconditional release from minor league contracts, but such a clause now becomes mandatory."

  156. NatsJack in Florida - Mar 19, 2012 at 8:44 PM

    The people behind home plate at the Brewer/Ranger game are dressed like they are playing the game in Milwaukee with the roof open.I cannot begin to tell you how great the weather has been here in Florida for this years ST.

  157. jd - Mar 19, 2012 at 9:04 PM

    Just catching up here with my 2 cents worth. I don't think that sending Harper down has anything to do with FA status in 6 years or arbitration eligibility. The kid is not quite ready to dominate in the bigs and this is what he is projected to do. I am sure he can hold his own and put up decent numbers even now but this is not about a decent player; this is someone you want to produce 7 – 8 WAR every year for many years so why not work out the kinks away from the bright lights and when he comes up he comes up to stay.

  158. natsfan1a - Mar 19, 2012 at 9:14 PM

    ;-)NatsNut said… Hey 1a, It matters to me who said what, but only because I was right. hee hee _______________

  159. Anonymous - Mar 19, 2012 at 10:32 PM

    Playing Harper in centerfield is a fools errand…big guys in center oft get injured…how many more games would Mantle have played had he not pulled hammy's every other week (seemed like). Even the superb, lithe Griffey lost too much time after spectacular collisions with the fence, ground or other outfielders. Stash oppo boppo in one of the corner slots and instruct him not to kill the centerfelder by being too aggressive. We need his bat, let someone else patrol center.

  160. Anonymous - Mar 19, 2012 at 10:39 PM

    "harpers swing has gotten progressively worse since joining the nats,watch his videos from high school if you dont believe me."That high school swing won't work in the pros as any swing coach will tell you…Please, give the coaches some credit for knowing what they are doing…whether the player can develop the requisite skills is another matter.

  161. natsfan1a - Mar 19, 2012 at 10:43 PM

    Had already received my flex plan tix, but just got my Take Back the Park tix for the May 5 Phillies game in the mail. They were supposed to come 1-2 weeks before the game but nice that they're already here because I can be a bit of a worrywart sometimes. Won't start worrying about my October 3 Take Back the Park tix just yet, though. :-)

  162. NatsJack in Florida - Mar 19, 2012 at 10:47 PM

    Yeah…..being a big guy in CF has absolutely ruined Matt Kemp.And get your facts right. Mantle mangled his knee playing right field as a young guy waiting for Joe Dimaggio to retire. His knee needed to be drained his entire career.

  163. Anonymous - Mar 19, 2012 at 10:55 PM

    NatsJack in Florida said… "And get your facts right. Mantle mangled his knee playing right field as a young guy waiting for Joe Dimaggio to retire."Come on NJ. You know facts are optional here.

  164. Anonymous - Mar 19, 2012 at 11:14 PM

    Kemp's on the big side for high level CFs today and he's like 15-20 pounds lighter than Harper, and Kemp's 27 years old. Harper at 19 is getting bigger, taller and he's never played CF on a regular basis. If they really want him to be a major league CFer on an every day basis than he's going to be in Cuse for a long time figuring it out. Harper is the only guy I have ever heard say that CF is the easiest OF position to play. It isn't.

  165. Anonymous - Mar 19, 2012 at 11:21 PM

    Get your facts straight…Mantle regularly pulled muscles playing center field…Kemp is built like a centerfielder, Harpwer is built like a linebacker…big guys in center field = a lot of time on the DL.

  166. NatsJack in Florida - Mar 19, 2012 at 11:24 PM

    You need to talk to some professional scouts and talent evaluators. Harper will be fine (and soon) as a center fielder.

  167. Fact checker - Mar 19, 2012 at 11:36 PM

    Willie Mays lifted a high, deep fly ball to right center field. Mickey moved to his right as Joe DiMaggio moved to left to make an easy catch, but inexplicably, Mickey "in some unaccountable manner tripped as he came near DiMaggio and fell flat.Mantle, running at full speed, had stopped short when he realized it was the center fielder's play.A cleat on Mantle's shoe caught on a piece of the underground lawn sprinkler apparatus in the outfield. He had to be carried off the field in a stretcher and later it was revealed by Dr. Sidney Gaynor, Yankee physician, that the youngster had suffered a sprained right knee that would sideline him for the rest of the Series.

  168. Anonymous - Mar 19, 2012 at 11:58 PM

    You never know who you are corresponding with on these blogs so don't assume the person on the other end is not a professional scout or high level coach. I love the arrogance of one's point of view. Harper has already shown a disquieting tendency to minor pulls…he's fast but a straight line fast…one of those long corkscrewing flies to center that requires a quick adjustment from left shoulder to right shoulder is going to present him with a problem. has already, will continue to do so.

  169. Anonymous - Mar 20, 2012 at 12:03 AM

    if ian desmond and danny espinosa dont hit better who would you ratherhave in cf,harper or bourn,i choose harper in center because thatr allows us to have better hitters at the corners.harper can also change his diet and or workout program to get him a centerfielders bodytype and speed,i think he'll do fine in center now though.im glad theyre moving him to center.

  170. Pot, meet kettle - Mar 20, 2012 at 12:03 AM

    Anon@7:58: some people never recognize irony.

  171. BleacherReports predicts Nats win Wild Card - Mar 20, 2012 at 12:28 AM

    A number of outstanding teams will be fighting it out for a spot to represent the league in the World Series.The playoff teams in the National League will be the NL East champion Philadelphia Phillies, the NL Central champion Cincinnati Reds, the NL West champion Arizona Diamondbacks, the St. Louis Cardinals as the first Wild Card and the Washington Nationals as the second Wild Card.Washington will beat St. Louis in the one-game playoff behind the arm of Stephen Strasburg. Philadelphia will then beat Arizona and the Reds will beat the Nationals.Philadelphia will take the series over the Reds by a count of 4-2.

  172. Now that BleacherReports has spoken - Mar 20, 2012 at 12:55 AM

    Well damn, I guess there's no point in watching the games now, it there? What will I do with all my free time now?

  173. Anonymous - Mar 20, 2012 at 1:00 AM

    The Phillies may win the championship of the all-nursing home league at this point. If you think we have dings – take a look at the shape their bunch of old guys is in.

  174. NatsLady - Mar 20, 2012 at 1:01 AM

    Can't happen. Stras won't be pitching in October. Gio or JZ will take care of us.

  175. Section 3, My Sofa - Mar 20, 2012 at 2:08 AM

    You never know who you are corresponding with on these blogs so don't assume the person on the other end is not a professional scout or high level coach.True, but there's still the dead horses vs. dead zebras thing.

  176. Section 222 - Mar 20, 2012 at 2:12 AM

    Dang, I got home, eager to check NI to find out about that trade of Lannan for a RH hitting outfielder. Instead I found a bunch of anonymous professional scouts and high level coaches. What happened??

  177. Section 109 - Mar 20, 2012 at 2:29 AM

    Just back from weekend in Viera, which we loved. I am not the sharpest tack in the box on a lot of baseball things, and I count on learning a great deal from Mark and people on this blog. One thing I will say is that Gio Gonzalez appears to be an extremely nice guy. After pitchers completed drills on the practice field Sat. morning around 11:15, several signed autographs for us eager fans, but Gio went beyond the call of duty. He was nice to everyone, talked briefly to anyone who wanted to talk to him, signed every ball, posed for every picture. Must have been 50 people who were either in line or came up to him. And one other really neat thing about the Space Coast Stadium experience–a local person pointed out to us that a great horned owl had nested on top of one of the light posts, and with binoculars we could see the owl's two chicks. I know the team has its reasons for moving, but I am really going to miss Viera, where we are allowed to get near the practice fields, and where nature is nearby. Also I feel very badly for the nice people whose economy is going to suffer. A guy in the line of fans said that the Nats had signed with Viera for 2013 and 2014–don't know if he's right or not. I'm sure the team couldn't be ready for the move till at least 2014.

  178. Gonat - Mar 20, 2012 at 2:36 AM

    Hypothetically, if the Nats were to do a deal with the Yankees, do you think they are looking to move Swisher?

  179. JaneB - Mar 20, 2012 at 2:39 AM

    Just got an email that the season tickets are being shipped….from Alberta, Canada! Section 109 — some here have been tracking the Owl for a while. Lots of names suggested. Someone else will have to give you the lowdown on the history of the name.

  180. Section 3, My Sofa - Mar 20, 2012 at 2:42 AM

    Dead Zebras is probably already the name of a rock band. Owls With No Name, I bet that's not taken.

  181. Oldguy - Mar 20, 2012 at 2:43 AM

    Yeah, got my notice, too. Tickets from Canada? Do they think we're still the Expos?

  182. Section 109 - Mar 20, 2012 at 2:48 AM

    Thanks JaneB!

  183. HHover - Mar 20, 2012 at 2:50 AM

    Hypothetically, I think the Yankees are looking to move Andy Pettitte. Do you know how old that guy is!?

  184. Anonymous - Mar 20, 2012 at 3:22 AM

    Notice that Nady is listed under the Nationals as being affected.Sheesh what a bunch of nit-pickers? When they said no opt-out clause they meant it. He basically agreed to play in Syracuse until they need him. With Werth and LaRoche no-bats that might be sooner than everyone expects.

  185. Anonymous - Mar 20, 2012 at 3:24 AM

    Can't happen. Stras won't be pitching in October. Gio or JZ will take care of us.That's where Detwiler, Gorzelanny and maybe Purke come in. Sans Solis it will be between Purke and Rosenbaum as to who gets to the bigs as a starter next.

  186. Anonymous - Mar 20, 2012 at 3:45 AM

    In USA Today sports journalist's awards, Kilgore got #2 in all Beat reporters. Don't ask me how.Kilgore is fine. He has Shenin throwing stuff in as well … nevertheless the posts are often far and in between … but he is informative via twitter. Seems like he prefers that instead? Dunno?

  187. Anonymous - Mar 20, 2012 at 4:35 AM

    Since we're approaching 200 posts … here's one for you Mark.How many of the best reporters have considered the possibility that Harper is starting too high? What happens if he has the same problem with AAA pitching and has to be demoted to AA? Wouldn't it have made more sense for him to start in AA, master that level and then move to AAA following Rizzo's edict about developing prospects?

  188. Cease the Opportunity - Mar 20, 2012 at 5:43 AM

    Anonymous said… 12:35 AMI agree with you. He should be at double AA to start…

Archives

NL EAST STANDINGS

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x-WASHINGTON 87 64 -- 0
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