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Moore, Carroll, Mattheus, Cedeno, Young cut

Mar 25, 2014, 5:47 PM EDT

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Updated at 6:23 p.m.

VIERA, Fla. — The Nationals made several major decisions this afternoon, nearly finalizing their Opening Day roster after cutting infielders Tyler Moore and Jamey Carroll, plus pitchers Ryan Mattheus, Xavier Cedeno and Chris Young.

Moore, Mattheus and Cedeno were optioned to Class AAA Syracuse, where they will open the season. Carroll and Young, who were in camp on minor-league contracts, were released and immediately become free agents.

The domino effect: Rookie reliever Aaron Barrett will make the club as the final man in the Nationals’ bullpen, the loser of the Tanner Roark/Taylor Jordan battle for the fifth starter’s job will be sent to Syracuse and the final spot on the bench will go either to utilityman Jeff Kobernus or catcher Sandy Leon.

“None of them were easy,” manager Matt Williams said of the five cuts made shortly after the Nationals’ 7-3 exhibition win over the Mets. “But they’re moves we had to make, and I wanted to let them know certainly today so they can make plans for anything they need to make plans for.”

The biggest surprise of the day: Neither Moore nor Carroll will make the Opening Day roster, despite plenty of indications up to this point that those were the two competitors for the final spot on the Nationals’ bench. The decision, though, came down to the fact Williams didn’t believe either guy would get much — if any — playing time, aside from pinch-hitting opportunities.

For the still-developing Moore, a chance to get regular at-bats as Syracuse’s first baseman and left fielder better prepares him for an eventual call-up down the road.

“Tyler’s history is that when he has consistent at-bats, he does well,” Williams said. “It’s tough when you’re not getting those at-bats. He’s a player that needs them to stay sharp. I can understand that. So that’s the reason behind Tyler. He needs at-bats, and he needs to be ready if we need him.”

Williams called the decision to release Carroll “the toughest one I’ve had so far.” The 40-year-old infielder was hoping to make a triumphant return to Washington nine years after holding a key role on the inaugural 2005 Nationals club. But with Danny Espinosa now positioned to back up at second base and shortstop, Williams didn’t foresee a scenario in which Carroll would get much opportunity to contribute and wanted to give the veteran time to potentially sign with another club before Opening Day.

“There are other teams out there that are looking for a middle infielder,” the first-time manager said. “I certainly want to allow him to do that, and help him to do that if we can. I think there’s more in the tank for him, and I think he’ll land somewhere and get a big-league job and continue to do what he does. He’s a pro in every aspect.”

The Nationals now either must acquire another position player who may be available at the last minute or choose between two unforeseen candidates for the last spot on their bench: Kobernus and Leon. Kobernus, who can play second base, left field and center field, would bring speed to the table and could be used in pinch-running situations. Leon would wind up as the third catcher on the roster, an unusual configuration but one that would free up starter Wilson Ramos to pinch-hit on days he doesn’t start.

“I want to get — if at all possible in that scenario — Wilson Ramos as many at-bats as I can,” said Williams, who added the decision may not be made until after the club heads north Thursday night. “He’s one of our best RBI guys. He can certainly drive a run in. And if that’s the way we go, it frees us up to go ahead and do that, earlier in a game than we normally would do that. So that’s a consideration we’re looking at.”

In selecting Barrett over Mattheus, Cedeno and Michael Gonzalez (who was released earlier in the day) as the final member of their bullpen, the Nationals decided to reward one of their own top prospects for a dazzling performance this spring. Barrett, 26, has not allowed a run in 9 2/3 innings, striking out seven without walking a batter. The right-hander posted a 2.15 ERA with 26 saves last season at Class AA Harrisburg, and club officials are convinced he’s ready to make the leap to the majors.

“When it came down to it, Aaron has showed us that he’s able to compete at this level,” Williams said. “He’s attacked guys. He’ll be a valuable piece to our bullpen and get into a lot of games for us.”

Barrett joins closer Rafael Soriano, fellow right-handers Drew Storen, Tyler Clippard and Craig Stammen, plus left-handers Ross Detwiler and Jerry Blevins in the Nationals’ Opening Day bullpen. That group won’t include the loser of the down-to-the-wire battle between Roark and Jordan for the final spot in Washington’s rotation.

Both right-handers are remaining in camp for now, with the Nationals waiting to make sure No. 4 starter Doug Fister is going to be fully ready to open the season on time after missing three weeks with elbow inflammation. Assuming that happens as planned, Williams said whoever isn’t selected between Roark and Jordan will begin the year in the Syracuse rotation.

As was the case with several players who made the difficult walk to his office this afternoon, Williams will make sure to tell either Roark or Jordan that his services will almost certainly be needed sometime this season.

“We all know that you go north with 25,” the manager said, “but it’s never just 25.”

124 Comments (Feed for Comments)
  1. 34natsfan - Mar 25, 2014 at 5:52 PM

    Thanks for the breakdown!

  2. letswin3 - Mar 25, 2014 at 5:52 PM

    Wow! Looks like Kobernus made it …. surely they won’t carry 3 catchers.

    • nats128 - Mar 25, 2014 at 5:54 PM

      So much for the person who said Kobernus should be released a few days ago.

      • letswin3 - Mar 25, 2014 at 6:04 PM

        My guess is that Matt Williams is going to run run run … between Kobernus (42 steals in the minors last year), combined with McLouth, Desmond, Harper and Spann, there could be considerably more concentration on stealing, hit and run, etc.. Also Kobernus hit 318 in the minors last season, and his OBP ain’t bad either.

      • nats128 - Mar 25, 2014 at 6:08 PM

        Agreed and it makes sense. Managers are moving to what they call the last guy on the bench being a toolsy guy.

      • Joe Seamhead - Mar 25, 2014 at 6:32 PM

        That was my take. I See my post below.

  3. nats128 - Mar 25, 2014 at 5:53 PM

    I guess Rizzo couldnt trade CYoung. Shocked at what Im reading that Roark wont go to the bullpen. I think 3 catchers is a mistake as the in-game risk of needing a 3rd catcher is remote and short-term any ways.

    Kobernus makes the most sense with his speed and multiple positions he plays.

    • David Proctor - Mar 25, 2014 at 5:57 PM

      It’s not about needing the 3rd catcher, it’s about allowing Ramos and Lobaton to PH.

      • nats128 - Mar 25, 2014 at 6:02 PM

        Well sure! Like Ive said several times Ramos on days he doesnt play is your best pinch hitter and I think you use Espi as your emergency catcher.

        The whole 3rd catcher thing is way overblown. Leon is a few hours away on Lerners jet to play the next day if something happened to both catchers. Very remote that would happen and a waste of a bench spot IMO.

      • David Proctor - Mar 25, 2014 at 6:03 PM

        The problem is most managers refuse to use their backup C in a PH role unless there are three. When’s the last time we saw an emergency catcher in an MLB game?

      • nats128 - Mar 25, 2014 at 6:09 PM

        Someone said Len Sakata a long time ago.

      • letswin3 - Mar 25, 2014 at 6:11 PM

        David, I’ve read that for years, and I guess I understand, but what are the odds of using Ramos to pinch hit, and then he gets injured in THAT game? Even in the unlikely event that it were to happen, there is always Harper for an emergency for the remainder of that game …. help is only hours away. That spot on the bench shouldn’t be used for a third catcher, regardless, imho.

      • David Proctor - Mar 25, 2014 at 6:13 PM

        Given Ramos injury history, the odds are higher here than in some other places.

      • nats128 - Mar 25, 2014 at 6:23 PM

        David, lets just say Ramos was injured. In comes Lobaton to play. How is that any different than when Ramos was injured 2 years ago and Flores came into the game.

        The situation of small risk is that Lobaton was used up as a pinch hitter and the following inning Ramos was injured. You are probably talking about late innings or extra innings and its extremely remote. Thats what the emergency catcher is for.

    • natinalsgo - Mar 25, 2014 at 6:26 PM

      That’s not much of an upgrade of Kobernus over Hairston in LF. It’s like saying Michael Morse over Adam Dunn in LF.

      • letswin3 - Mar 25, 2014 at 6:44 PM

        I’m guessing that the 4th outfielder is McLouth … a guy who had a zillion starts in Baltimore out there last year, not Hairston or Kobernus.

      • natinalsgo - Mar 25, 2014 at 6:55 PM

        Yes, on most days. Hairston will still get starts

  4. knoxvillenat - Mar 25, 2014 at 5:53 PM

    So where would Kobernus play in the field? He has challenges anywhere in the outfield and I can’t see him playing infield except in an emergency situation. Designated runner?

    • nats128 - Mar 25, 2014 at 5:59 PM

      In Kobernus defense even Span has errors in ST. Wind blowing and not optimum conditions. I think Kobernus gives better D in LF than Hairston.

  5. Hiram Hover - Mar 25, 2014 at 5:54 PM

    I’m on board with the decisions re the #5 starter and BP.

    The bench choices have me scratching my head. Releasing Carroll, I get. But Kobernus or Leon over TyMo for the final bench spot? So you have no other backup than Zim at 1B, and either guy you’re keeping is going to contribute little offensively?

    • David Proctor - Mar 25, 2014 at 5:57 PM

      As has been said a few times, keeping Leon allows Ramos and Lobaton to PH. That’s the only reason for that.

      Kobernus as a runner.

      • Hiram Hover - Mar 25, 2014 at 5:59 PM

        I saw your comment on the last thread and will just repeat it here – I understand the explanation, but the cost seems awfully high to me: to let him PH on some of his days off, you keep on your roster a guy who is otherwise useless to you, both offensively and defensively.

      • David Proctor - Mar 25, 2014 at 6:01 PM

        Well, think of it this way: would you rather have Ramos/Lobaton PHing or Moore/Carroll. If it’s the former, then it makes sense. If it’s the latter, then it doesn’t.

      • nats128 - Mar 25, 2014 at 6:07 PM

        Hiram, I agree with you. I wouldnt keep Leon just as castrophic insurance. In AAA he is at most 4 hours away on Lerners jet if he is needed the next day.

        Im sure Espi would make a fine emergency catcher and never get used.

      • Hiram Hover - Mar 25, 2014 at 6:20 PM

        DP

        Carroll was done in my book, so the choice is bwn these guys and TyMo.

        I think the 25th man is usually more of a utility man, who can play multiple roles (pinch run, cover various defensive positions) even if he isn’t the greatest bat in the world.

        In this case: Ramos can’t PH in the games he’s starting anyway, which will be most of them. Bwn TyMo and Lobaton, it’s more of a toss up. Throw in the fact that TyMo can back up ALR at 1B and that gives him the edge, over Leon, who really can’t do anything else.

  6. swang30 - Mar 25, 2014 at 5:59 PM

    It’s the choice between a bat and a runner. Keeping Kobernus gives you a PR, and a damn good one at that. Worst case, you can have Hairston play for a spell at 2nd base (I think he played there before, no?) Keeping Leon gives you a PH indirectly (Lobaton or Ramos).

    • letswin3 - Mar 25, 2014 at 6:47 PM

      Pretty sure that was Hairstons brother.

      • pdowdy83 - Mar 25, 2014 at 7:52 PM

        Scott originally came up as a second baseman with the Diamondbacks. He played 85 games there in 2004 but I don’t see why he would need to play 2nd base any.

  7. Section 222 - Mar 25, 2014 at 6:03 PM

    Fascinating decisions. I guess the question comes down to whether Ramos/Lobaton/Leon (whoever isn’t playing) is more valuable as a potential pinch hitter than Kobernus is as a pinch runner/pinch hitter. That’s not an easy question to answer. But Ramos is a real force as a hitter, and the idea of having him available to hit every day rather than being frozen on the bench for fear of an injury to Lobaton is very appealing. Who would you rather have up in a key late inning situation with men on base — Ramos or Hairston? And who are you going to pinch run for in a close game, knowing he’ll have to be replaced defensively? Certainly not Span, Desi, Harper, Zim or Werth. Maybe Rendon because Espi is a defensive upgrade, but it’s not like Rendon is slow. That leaves ALR and Ramos. Are we really keeping Kobernus on the roster for that?

    Keeping 3 catchers is out of the box thinking. A way maximize the value of a slugging catcher like Ramos. I vote for that.

    • nats128 - Mar 25, 2014 at 6:13 PM

      ALR, Lobaton, Ramos, and the pitchers could all be pinch-run for.

      • Section 222 - Mar 25, 2014 at 9:08 PM

        Do tell the last time a pitcher batted for himself, got on base, and was lifted for a pinch runner.

      • nats128 - Mar 25, 2014 at 9:23 PM

        Given the way Matty is aggressive I dont put any thing past him in a 6th or 7th inning tight game with a pitcher on 2nd or 3rd.

        Everything is situation based.

    • letswin3 - Mar 25, 2014 at 6:26 PM

      I’m just having trouble accepting that a spot on the bench could be reserved for a guy (Leon) who will be only a “break glass in the case of emergency” guy. And then swapping Moore for Hairston …… money-schmoney, forget the money (your gonna have to pay Hairston regardless of whether you play him or trade him and pick up part of his salary anyway) …. the question is would you rather have Moore or Hairston pinch hitting from the right side? And what about all that talk about starting Moore against tough lefties, while giving ALR a day off?

      • David Proctor - Mar 25, 2014 at 6:32 PM

        I’d rather have Hairston hitting against lefties than Moore. Money doesn’t even factor in to me.

      • laddieblahblah - Mar 26, 2014 at 6:53 AM

        “I’m just having trouble accepting that a spot on the bench could be reserved for a guy (Leon) who will be only a “break glass in the case of emergency” guy.”

        Don’t be so sure about that. Matt has shown a great deal of imagination in his approach to the team’s makeup and style. I can see him using Leon as both a PH and a PR when Ramos is starting. Leon is pretty fast, even if he is a catcher, and is a streaky hitter.

  8. nats128 - Mar 25, 2014 at 6:08 PM

    Notice also with these moves Rizzo doesnt have to make any 40 man moves.

  9. nats128 - Mar 25, 2014 at 6:11 PM

    Rizzo also doesnt buy into this Veteran presence needs like Davey. I like it actually with the exception of Hairston as I preferred TyMo.

    • Doc - Mar 25, 2014 at 6:24 PM

      Me too!

      TyMo will arrive back, as soon as Hairston tanks!!

      • realdealnats - Mar 25, 2014 at 9:51 PM

        +1
        I know Moore will do better playing regularly at Syracuse but Zims not ready to play 1B is he?

  10. #4 - Mar 25, 2014 at 6:11 PM

    Kobernus if kept would act as a “small ball” bench guy. He can steal a base as a pich runner so you can insert him in straight steal or hit and run situations. He’s also dropped about 25 sac bunts in the last three minor leagues seasons, so he can perform that role as well. Given Williams’ interest in not sitting around, waiting for three-run homers, his inclusion could make some sense. A choice of Leon would replace Kobernus with Lobaton on your bench most days, Ramos on others. I think Kobernus provides more flexibility.

    Once Danny showed he was at least capable of being a back-up, Carroll was done. No need to have two infield gloves on the bench. Additionally there’s no reason to carry both Hairston and Moore.

  11. David Proctor - Mar 25, 2014 at 6:17 PM

    Adam Kilgore ‏@AdamKilgoreWP 2m
    Source: the Nats are one of two or three teams that have contacted IF Kevin Frandsen, who opted out of his deal with the Phillies today.

    A move in the works?

    • nats128 - Mar 25, 2014 at 6:27 PM

      Thats interesting. I guess nothing is done until its done.

    • laddieblahblah - Mar 26, 2014 at 6:49 AM

      That is interesting, especially if Mike thinks it worth exploring. Situations this time of year are so dynamic that I think Matt needs to relax a bit in making some of his decisions. Makes more sense to be flexible and open than to agonize over a decision that can be rendered moot in a baseball instant.

  12. scnatsfan - Mar 25, 2014 at 6:19 PM

    Not the decisions I would have made but I’m not the manager, I haven’t played baseball all of my life and I didn’t see anyone in ST. I agree with sending the ‘loser’ in the 5th starter to the minors to keep fresh as a starter, and Moore has to show his horrid 13 is behing him; if he does he will be back sooner then later. Barrett is the surprise; I thought he would be the AAA closer but it is a best 25 go north kind of move.

    Excited for the season to start. I think Kobernus has much more value then Leon.

  13. sunshinebobby - Mar 25, 2014 at 6:19 PM

    I think Kobernus sticks as pinch-runner extraordinaire. Carroll was too old. And Hairston supplants the Buffalo has a RH pinch-hitter. Young wasn’t impressive enough in ST to make this team’s staff, though I would think he might stick elsewhere after he gets picked up.

    That fit of anger Mattheus pulled last year has derailed his career. And TyMo seems stuck in limbo, not improving enough to make the big club. And with Zimm apparently open to 1B next season, TyMo could be dealt, I would think.

    Glad to see Barrett stick. It means showings in ST still mean something. He’s been impressive.

    Best 25 come north, as we say.

    I can’t wait for OD.

  14. Jacob Rasch - Mar 25, 2014 at 6:22 PM

    Our take on these cuts, and the ripple effects they have on the Nats’ roster:

    http://seriousjammage.com/2014/03/25/nationals-roster-cuts-down-to-27/

    • Eric - Mar 25, 2014 at 7:44 PM

      Nice post!

      Sorry to do this, but

      “It means the Nationals’ bullpen will be comprised of five right handers…”

      That should be either “will comprise five right handers…” or “is composed of five right handers…”

      Sincerely,
      Your friendly Interhood anonymous editor
      ;)

      • Eric - Mar 25, 2014 at 7:48 PM

        Hrm…Miriam Webster provides for “composed of” in its third definition; however, it acknowledges that it’s controversial and suggests “composed of” or “made up of” instead.

      • Eric - Mar 25, 2014 at 7:50 PM

        Argh… First sentence should’ve read “Mirriam Webster provides for ‘comprised of’…”

      • Jacob Rasch - Mar 25, 2014 at 7:51 PM

        Thank you for being friendly, Mr. Friendly Interhood Anonymous Editor! The sentence now reads like this:

        “It means the Nationals’ bullpen will initially contain five right handers…”

        Thanks for the education!

      • Eric - Mar 25, 2014 at 8:05 PM

        :)

        Sorry if it came off as pedantic or anything. I had some editing duties in a former job, including posting a monthly “grammer tip” on the company intranet, and now certain things really stand out.

      • Eric - Mar 25, 2014 at 8:06 PM

        Figures I wrote “grammer” in that post ;)

      • Theophilus T.S. - Mar 25, 2014 at 10:18 PM

        That’s “Merriam-Webster” to you, sir.

      • Eric - Mar 25, 2014 at 10:19 PM

        Ha! True that.

  15. Doc - Mar 25, 2014 at 6:33 PM

    Kind of a waste of Leon’s aspiring skills.

    But it will be interesting to see how ol’ Matty uses Ramos as a PH. He could become the best PH in baseball!

    • laddieblahblah - Mar 26, 2014 at 6:41 AM

      I think he is also figuring on using Lobaton and/or Leon to PH when Ramos is catching. Leon has got some speed, himself.

  16. Joe Seamhead - Mar 25, 2014 at 6:34 PM

    [Sorry, I hit this on the last post by accident]

    I am very happy for Aaron Barrett.The kid blindsided just about everybody this spring by how well he performed and by making the club. My thoughts on the others?
    Carroll? Thanks for the memories, you were a lot of fun to watch in the beginning. you had a heck of a ride for a over-achieving hustler.
    Cedeno? Couldn’t afford the luxury for a guy that was meat for right handers.
    Moore? You might be back, but a MLB curve is a hard thing to learn to hit. The sands are flowing through the hour glass quicker now.
    Mattheus? Get better, you knucklehead.We’ll need you sooner, or later.
    Young? Three years ago you would have made the roster. This club just has too many young studs for you to compete now. You’ll land with somebody.
    Jordan over Roark? I guess the coin had a heads and a tails. Looks like heads came up and Tanner had tails.

    The survivors, so far?
    Kobernus or Leon? Tough call, but seeing as Lobaton can switch hit and Ramos is raking, a 3rd catcher so as one of the others can pinch hit has some merit. I don’t see Kobernus being anything more than a pinch runner, which is a nice luxury for a manager that wants to be aggressive with keeping the runners moving. Where’s he going to get time in the field? Either way, I like it.

    • Theophilus T.S. - Mar 25, 2014 at 10:20 PM

      Since we’re on a grammar hunt, that’s “more quickly,” not “quicker.”

  17. David Proctor - Mar 25, 2014 at 6:34 PM

    Here’s an interesting little article that Jayson Werth wrote for Nationals.com about what Opening Day means to him:

    http://washington.nationals.mlb.com/news/article/was/jayson-werth-opening-day-is-like-a-holiday?ymd=20140325&content_id=70099456

    • nats128 - Mar 25, 2014 at 6:44 PM

      Who knew Jayson was a historian AND a writer!

      • laddieblahblah - Mar 26, 2014 at 5:58 AM

        Great story DP. Jayson is as much of a fan as we are, but he is lucky enough to play. Nice to hear from a player who is grateful for the privilege, and so respectful of the game.

  18. Joe Seamhead - Mar 25, 2014 at 6:42 PM

    Great read, David Proctor. Thanks for the link.

  19. laddieblahblah - Mar 25, 2014 at 6:42 PM

    Congratulations to Barrett. They had a number of good options, and they still have more in the minors if he doesn’t work out. Matt appears to me to have been as good as his word. Barrett won the job on the merits, and for no other reason. Barrett wasn’t on anyone’s short list to make the team at the start of ST.

    It appears that Matt had the most to say about who made that cut.

    We still do not know the identity of the 5th starter or the final bench guy.

    I like the idea of having Ramos as another big bat off the bench. They expect him to start about 130 games, or so. That means he would be available to PH for 30, or so, more. That seems to me to have a lot more value than having an extra pinch runner (they already have McClouth and Danny), and they already have a much better IF defensive replacement in Espinosa, who can play SS as well as 2nd, and a much better defensive replacement in the OF in McClouth, who can play all 3 OF positions better than Kobernus.

    But Matt, apparently, has still not made up his mind about Solano (actually Ramos as a PH) vs. Kobernus, or Roark vs. TJ, but its not like he can’t change his mind a few weeks, or a few days, from now.

    The guy wants to win, and he will structure his team to help him do that, to the best of his ability. No doubt they have hashed all of this out, beforehand, but I think Mike is letting Matt make those final decisions. I’m just guessing, of course, but these are the kinds of options (e.g. a 3rd catcher) a field manager would make, more so than a GM.

    I also like the idea that Mike is supporting his field manager – or so it appears to me. We’ll all know about the final roster, soon enough. Matt seems to be the kind of guy who agonizes over stuff like this.

    Me? I won’t lose any sleep over any of it. That’s what they pay Matt for, and they never listen to me, anyway.

    • nats128 - Mar 25, 2014 at 6:47 PM

      Its actually Leon not Solano however your points are good. My only other thought there is Ramos will start 110 games and could certainly appear in 130. I dont see him starting 130 games.

      Other decision is starting 2nd baseman.

    • nats128 - Mar 25, 2014 at 6:54 PM

      “The guy wants to win, and he will structure his team to help him do that, to the best of his ability. No doubt they have hashed all of this out, beforehand, but I think Mike is letting Matt make those final decisions.”

      I believe the only decision made for him was Treinen back to AAA since he wasn’t on the 40 man, and Hairston was guaranteed a spot. Lets be real, 20 of the spots were no-brainers. Its those last 5 moves that take real thought on how you want your team to operate.

      Deciding between Roark and Taylor Jordan is a coin flip. Not trading Chris Young a small loss. Jamey Carroll getting released, understandable. Walters to AAA.

      • laddieblahblah - Mar 26, 2014 at 6:31 AM

        “Lets be real, 20 of the spots were no-brainers. Its those last 5 moves that take real thought on how you want your team to operate.”

        Agreed. I wonder what would have happened if Matt had been consulted before Mike traded away Billy Burns for Blevins. Given MW’s emphasis on team speed, chances are it would have been Billy getting a roster spot on the Nats 25 man roster instead of on Oakland’s. I don’t think Matt would have passed on an opportunity to have the best base stealer the DC Nats have ever had, anywhere in their system.

        I think Mike has grown as a GM since the days when he actually refused to meet with his field manager, then John Riggleman, which led to one of the most embarrassing incidents in Nats’ history. He is still the boss, but the boss is working with his new manager more as a collaborator than as a mere subordinate.

        It’s still very early, but I have liked MW from day one. My main worry is that the guy is so intense that he might burn himself out. The Kobernus – 3-catcher thing can be tried, one way or the other. If that decision doesn’t work out, then he could send Leon back down, and bring Kobernus back up, and try it the other way around – or send Kobernus back down and bring Leon back up, whichever.

        See? I can make these things seem so easy from my “easy” chair. Take it easy Matt. You can always change your mind. You will be criticized, of course, just for changing your mind, but you will be criticized anyway, even if you go 161 -1.

      • nats128 - Mar 26, 2014 at 2:39 PM

        Thats a great point. Burns fit Matty style. Kobernus probably could also if he had more tools.

        Souza will be a guy to watch.

    • Joe Seamhead - Mar 25, 2014 at 7:14 PM

      Great post, laddie. I keep forgetting about McClouth’s base running abilities.

      • laddieblahblah - Mar 26, 2014 at 6:04 AM

        If you get a chance to see the Nats’ version of MLB’s “30 teams in 30 days,” try and catch it. It’s available on Verizon’s video on demand, if you have that. If you think we have all drunk the Kool-Aid nhere, wait until you hear what their panel has to say about this year’s Nats.

        And the segment includes a feature with McClouth explaining how he steals bases, and he is the best base-stealer on the team. Very good player with a baseball mind as sharp as they come, and willing to come to the Nats even though he knew he would be a back-up right out of the gate.

        Says a lot about him and about how far the Nats have come since the Aaron Crow snub.

  20. letswin3 - Mar 25, 2014 at 6:58 PM

    Several of you are really good at digging up statistics. Question; how many times in the last 10 years has a third catcher been needed in a major league regular season game because of injury? And for how many total innings?

    • pdowdy83 - Mar 25, 2014 at 8:00 PM

      Having a 3rd catcher is less about injury and more about having a switch hitter available as a pinch hitter in Lobaton. It all really depends on whether Williams and Rizzo believe his bat will be more useful than having an extra position player.

      • letswin3 - Mar 25, 2014 at 10:05 PM

        I’m with ya. Leon is the odd man out.

  21. Drew - Mar 25, 2014 at 7:08 PM

    Kobernus’ speed would help the Nats win games. With him in the Herb Washington role, you can save McLouth and Espinosa for when you need them to pinch hit.

    Collectively, those three and Desmond would put tremendous pressure on the defense.

  22. nats128 - Mar 25, 2014 at 7:11 PM

    My buddy sent this to me and the Orioles are sending this to there database to buy the Os games in Washington. Why would they do that?

    http://view.ed4.net/v/MK8YGL/3V3BCM/0ZHEXBE/7LIGE/MAILACTION=1&FORMAT=H?partnerId=ed-7974405-664448853

    • Candide - Mar 25, 2014 at 7:50 PM

      To get the bitter taste of all those OPaCY losses to the Yanks and Sox out of their mouths?

      • nats128 - Mar 25, 2014 at 7:57 PM

        True, Yankees and Bosox fans take over there stadium.

    • NatsLady - Mar 25, 2014 at 11:41 PM

      I got an email from the Nats to buy tickets to the games in Baltimore…

      • nats128 - Mar 26, 2014 at 12:36 AM

        What is going on. Is this MLB behind this or are the teams cross marketing.

      • natsfan1a - Mar 26, 2014 at 7:42 AM

        Ditto.

  23. hantiaolang - Mar 25, 2014 at 7:23 PM

    It’s been well-established that RZimm will play games at 1st this year, although I never thought the Nats intended him to be the primary back-up when not playing third. It’s also been established – in the RZimm to 1st discussions – that you don’t just plop someone over there without some preparation. But . . . if the Nats really do carry three catchers, is there any chance Ramos sees a few games at first ala Buster Posey with the Giants? Just having some fun speculating prior to the season.

    BTW – I think Kobernus has the edge, but my kids and I are big fans of Leon from his Potomac days and whenever Harrisburg visited Bowie. Excited to see how all this shakes out.

    • Hiram Hover - Mar 25, 2014 at 8:48 PM

      Interesting comparison to B Posey – but he played 1B some in the minors, and a lot more in ST than Zim has.

      And Ramos hasn’t played in ST, or in the minors since 2006. So if that was the plan for him, they’re hiding it really, really well.

    • laddieblahblah - Mar 26, 2014 at 6:15 AM

      I think part of that dynamic (moving Zim to 1b, Rendon to 3rd, Danny to 2nd) is to make the team faster. Matt would, basically, swap out the lead-foot La Roche for the fleet Espinosa. If Danny can get on, then the Nats team speed will be even more of a factor. Part of me thinks that Matt is thinking of keeping Kobernus as an option to Danny, if Espinosa struggles to reach base.

      Since Ramos is, quite possibly, the only guy in the entire organization who is slower than La Roche, I don’t think there’s a chance in hell of Ramos playing 1b for Matt. Ryan is not a speed demon, but he is an excellent base runner, and a capable base-stealer. With RZ, Danny (or Kobernus), Desi and Rendon, the Nats would have one of the fastest IFs in baseball.

      Although it has never been a big part of his game, Rendon has the quickness and speed to be a good base stealer. I have a feeling he is going to be getting some lessons. McClouth would be a great teacher, with quickness and speed and stature all similar to Anthony’s.

  24. Candide - Mar 25, 2014 at 7:27 PM

    Nothing to do with today’s roster moves, just an update to the “Who’s Going” page of the NIDO spreadsheet.

    I’ve modified the data validation so that you can enter anything you want in your name/date cell, as long as it doesn’t contain a blank. For myself, I’m going with section and row, e.g. “312F” but you can simply enter “X,” or “SRO” if you’re going to the opener and can’t get a seat, or “LexusA” or “LernerSuite” if you have too much money. Whatever floats your boat, it should work as long as you don’t put a blank space in there. Please drop me a line if you run into a problem.

    As always, the top row will total up the number of people planning to go to each game, and the far right column will total up how many games each person plans to attend.

  25. texnat1 - Mar 25, 2014 at 7:30 PM

    I agree with David Proctor that the rationale for Leon would be to free up Lobaton/Ramos to PH on days off.

    But I also agree that Williams just needs to set that convention aside. When you have a solid hitting catcher, and you need more punch on your bench, you can’t let fear of injury change the way you play the game. If that happens, you just tip your cap to the Baseball Gods (or devils) and accept that game as a probable loss and move on.

    You can’t avoid PH a guy like Ramos (or even Lobaton for that matter) the whole season just because there is some small chance you would need him later on.

    I recognize this is a general rule for baseball managers, but I don’t like it.

    • nats128 - Mar 25, 2014 at 8:57 PM

      We all know what David is trying to say and your other comments are what I agree with. You give Espinosa catchers gear and give him some reps and it is the remotest of possibilities that you would ever use him in a game.

      People act as if there are no other catchers in the system. Leon and Solano are still in AAA. Even if something happened in 1 game and Espinosa did have to don the gear, how many innings are we talking about?

      To me the old conventions of how you use your catchers is kind of outdated and ridiculous as you have a contingency plan of the emergency 3rd catcher if that ever happened.

      Leon is a waste of a roster spot until September.

    • Doc - Mar 25, 2014 at 9:29 PM

      The probabilities of needing an emergency catcher are like 1-2 games out of 162, if that!

      Kind of goofy decision on ol’ Matty’s and Rizzo’s part.

      We now have a guy that can only run bases, and a 3rd string catcher that will hardly ever play.

      So basically 2 bench spots that are going to waste.

      Better to have TyMo and Walters riding the pines. Walters is probably equal to Kobernus in pinch running duties, and can also hit a ball once in a while.

      Don’t see this playing out well!!!

      • letswin3 - Mar 25, 2014 at 10:09 PM

        Doc, I’m with ya on everything except Walters ability to steal a base … that distinction would belong to Kobernus.

  26. natsjackinfl - Mar 25, 2014 at 8:04 PM

    Haven’t read any of the posts beyond Marks article.

    Jeff Kobernus is not a Major League ballplayer.

    • pdowdy83 - Mar 25, 2014 at 8:33 PM

      I know you’ve seen a lot of him Natsjack. Care to elaborate? Other than his plus speed and his low walk rate I don’t know much else about him and I’m sure others are in the same boat.

    • knoxvillenat - Mar 25, 2014 at 8:40 PM

      Thanks Jack, that message is what I was trying to convey in my post.

    • Joe Seamhead - Mar 25, 2014 at 9:13 PM

      Thanks, Jack. I’ve said for some time that the guy has no position that he comes close to playing at a MLB level. There was a reason theTigers didn’t keep him when they took him in the Rule 5. They knew he was a great base runner but wasn’t a very good infielder. He spent a spring with them trying to turn him into an outfielder before they concluded he wasn’t worth a spot on their 25 man.

  27. philipd763 - Mar 25, 2014 at 8:36 PM

    With Zimmerman moving to first base next year, Moore has no place on this team. I agree that he needs to play on a regular basis but not at Syracuse. He’s been there, done that and done it well.

    • pdowdy83 - Mar 25, 2014 at 8:39 PM

      He definitely screams AL to me. Maybe Houston or even Toronto.

    • Doc - Mar 25, 2014 at 9:17 PM

      Correctomundo, some team needs to give TyMo a chance to play in the Bigs!

      Bo wanted him in Huston last year—maybe still does???

      • nats128 - Mar 25, 2014 at 9:33 PM

        I wouldnt be quick to pass TyMo on as ALR is gone at the end of the year. Next year RZim could stay at 3rd and the team would need a 1B.

        I like TyMo. I would keep him here unless you get an offer you cant refuse.

    • Candide - Mar 25, 2014 at 9:47 PM

      I think Rizzo’s plan is to showcase him in Syracuse, where he’ll lead the league in homers and errors, until some AL team decides they need a DH who can play 1B without embarrassing himself too badly. Rizzo then ships him for half a dozen pitching prospects, and we all live happily ever after.

  28. nats128 - Mar 25, 2014 at 8:48 PM

    Atlanta reliever Gearrin has a right elbow sprain. You cant make this stuff up.

    • Candide - Mar 25, 2014 at 9:57 PM

      You know how we’re always beefing about the Nats’ medical staff?

      I can’t imagine what the Barves’ fans are saying about their doctors and pitching coaches, because I’m sure I never learned words like that.

      • nats128 - Mar 25, 2014 at 10:38 PM

        NatsLady put up stats on TJ injuries. I cant remember the timeframe, the Braves led the entire Majors and of course that doesnt include this year!

      • Joe Seamhead - Mar 26, 2014 at 6:28 AM

        It seems like there is a weird pattern going on in Atlanta with all of their pitcher injuries piling up. They also seem to be counting an awful lot on Gavin Floyd’s somewhat early return. Though he is a pretty good pitcher, he has never quite lived up to his first round expectations.

      • nats128 - Mar 26, 2014 at 2:39 PM

        thanks

  29. Faraz Shaikh - Mar 25, 2014 at 9:19 PM

    When i read the headline, i thought moore has become a free agent.

    • unkyd59 - Mar 25, 2014 at 9:45 PM

      Me too! “Cut” has too much finality to it… Says “Cut ties with”, to me (only for a second, though…heheh)

  30. sjm308 - Mar 25, 2014 at 9:38 PM

    Very late to this party – I was watching the Lady Terps when my son called with the news.

    Just a little disappointed we didn’t get anything for C Young.
    I figured Carroll really had an uphill fight with that 40 man roster spot being more valuable than we realize.
    Very Very pleased for Barrett but also positive about how well Mattheus and Cedeno looked the last few appearances. Pretty sure they will pitch well in AAA and think we will see both at some time this season.

    I am thinking that Tyler Moore was not going to do well on the bench (just as Williams stated). If he hits over .300 again with power in Syracuse, we either let him compete next year for the starting job or trade him later in the season but he is not a bench type player at his young age.

    I am confused but not concerned about who will play first when they rest LaRoche. Maybe they won’t rest him as much as they first thought but I guess it has to be Ziimm, which makes little sense. I have heard of on the job training but this might take the cake. I trust in both Zimm’s athletic ability and Williams sense of what will work.

    I stil think I would go with Roark over Jordan but will not be upset with either choice.

    I have read every comment on Kobernus vs. Leon and natsjack might have tipped the scale for me. Leon is an outside the box choice but I do like seeing Ramos hit in any situation where the game is on the line. Something I do not think was mentioned are the few AL games where we will have a DH. You can put Ramos there, catch Lobaton and still have a 2nd catcher available if needed. Its only 12 games or so but we win 8 of those 12 and thats a pretty nice situation. So my vote is Leon.

    Go Nats!!!

  31. Doc - Mar 25, 2014 at 9:43 PM

    Two switch-hitting catchers in Leon and Lobaton.

    When’s the last time that that happened in baseball history???

    • pdowdy83 - Mar 25, 2014 at 10:15 PM

      I’m not sure if it was the most recent but Jason Varitek and Saltalamachia were on the 2011 Red Sox. Both are switch hitters.

  32. veejh - Mar 25, 2014 at 10:23 PM

    Kobernus remaining is puzzling. That is all.

    • nats128 - Mar 25, 2014 at 10:44 PM

      Credit to Chase Hughes as he put Kobernus right out there weeks ago as his 5th bench guy.

  33. Section 222 - Mar 25, 2014 at 10:34 PM

    One side effect of TyMo going to AAA is that Espi stands to get even more playing time. He’s basically the guy who plays in any game where one of the starting infielders is getting a rest. He plays 2B when ALR, Zim, or Rendon rests, and SS when Desi has the day off. I sure hope he has “figured it out” the way everyone assumes he has.

    Lots of good comments here on the Leon vs. Kobernus question. I see the arguments on both sides, I just like the idea of Ramos as the key PH off the bench in games he isn’t playing — and that could be 30-50 games this year. And, as someone mentioned, we do have McLouth for a key pinch running situation. Honestly, I don’t think the opportunity to pinch run presents itself that often.

  34. Eric - Mar 25, 2014 at 10:50 PM

    As the first spring training I’ve followed comes to a close, I gotta say: it’s really exciting watching the team come together to kick off the season.

    Only move that’s bummed me out so far is Carroll. I’m not sure why, as I can see that his defensive capabilities were more or less redundant due to Espi’s and Rendon’s IF skills, and that he wasn’t adding much to the offensive dynamic. I just like his story I guess.

    In any case, I think my order of preference for the last bench spot is:
    Aquire Frandsen – this gives us more depth at first, as well as elsewhere in the infield, and his offense seems fairly reliable (based on last year’s numbers, anyway). He’s almost like the exact middle ground between Carroll and TyMo. Not sure how he is on the base paths; ideally in the same ballpark as…
    Kobernus – I haven’t looked into his defensive numbers or closely watched him in action on defense, but I do think he’s a great fit for the small ball tactics Williams brings into play. I think because of that he’s more likely than…
    Leon – I never would’ve considered the PH-related upsides to having three catchers if I didn’t read about them here and on the Post. It’s really interesting really illuminates for me how strategic these moves really can be. To me, it seems more like an upside Davey Johnson would look for (get the power bat in there more often), but like a strategic angle Williams would pursue (consider every perceivable advantage, even on the fringes; I have the sense Davey more readily filtered fringe cases through odds analysis). In light if that, I think this is less likely than Kobernus.

    In the end, I think Frandsen gets it if we are truly looking to acquire him and succeed. I suspect Kobernus is next in line, but I assume the Nats have math wizards calculating whether he or Leon project to the highest number of wins in the greatest number of possible eventualities ;)

    • Doc - Mar 25, 2014 at 11:07 PM

      We don’t get to know what the Nats’ sabermetrics department is doing; but let’s hope that there is some statistical basis for some of these unusual moves.

      Any stats would be better than Rizzo and Williams just pulling this stuff out of their collective corporate butt!

      I mean what are the run scoring probabilities of Kobernus being used in run scoring situations—given that that is pretty much all he can do???

      • Eric - Mar 25, 2014 at 11:15 PM

        A good question, especially considering what he might cost us on defense.

        To clarify why I think Kobernus is more likely than Leon, while a move for fringe benefit seems more like Williams’ style than Davey’s, and probably explains why we’re looking at Leon/Kobernus at this point, the small ball angle of Kobernus fits more with the strategy Williams seems to have adopted.

        I think that will guide him unless the numbers for optimizing Ramos are clearly better… And if that were clear by now, and that’s their primary consideration, Kobernus would probably be gone already.

      • letswin3 - Mar 25, 2014 at 11:26 PM

        I don’t support Kobernus outright, but if it’s him or Leon I’ll take Kobernus …. and he did hit something like 318 in the minors last year, along with 42 stolen bases. I just don’t see a 3rd catcher coming into play (Leon would be the 3rd catcher) very often, if ever, so why waste a bench spot on him. I understand the remote risk associated with pinch hitting your bench catcher, but I regard it as just that, remote. It’s great to have either catcher on the bench as a viable pinch hitter (either Lobation or Ramos) … my suggestion is to pinch hit them and, if that guy then comes out of the game, and the game catcher is injured, tell Harper to pull his old catchers glove out and spit on it once or twice …. we’re talking an inning or two, before calling up Leon from AAA to be available the next day.

  35. NatsNut - Mar 25, 2014 at 10:56 PM

    I thought you might find this as cool as I did:

    http://espn.go.com/mlb/techniques/pitchanatomy/#

    • nats128 - Mar 26, 2014 at 12:38 AM

      That is cool.

  36. NatsNut - Mar 25, 2014 at 11:16 PM

    I love the idea of a third catcher. If I were the bad buys, I would NOT want to see Ramos coming in to pinch hit.

    • NatsLady - Mar 25, 2014 at 11:45 PM

      Nor as a DH.

  37. Eric - Mar 26, 2014 at 12:39 AM

    Anyone here post as “cass” over on natsbaseball.blogspot.com?

    There’s a pretty funny riff in a comment on that post about the N-A-T-S cheer that references the upper deck behind home plate and sabremetrics and I immediately thought of NIers.

  38. cayucosbaseballconservancy - Mar 26, 2014 at 2:10 AM

    Hmmm if Kobernus isn’t a major league ballplayer than by god neither is Lombardozzi. But, hey he’s going to be the O’s starting second baseman.

    Kobernus like Lombo has makeup that is off the charts. He’s been hampered by injuries early on in the minors but has a very similar mindset when it comes to playing the game to the Lombardozzi’s. He’s a ‘dirtbag’. He’s going to get get dirty. The difference? He’s a lot faster has a better arm and can play more positions than Lombo. But, he’s not a switch hitter.

  39. Joe Seamhead - Mar 26, 2014 at 4:34 AM

    Anything is possible, but I don’t see the Nats signing Kevin Frandsen. This from their page:

    Frandsen cleared waivers and now has 72 hours to accept his assignment. If he opts to become a free agent, he will forfeit this year’s salary, a guaranteed $900,000. He is likely to accept the assignment.

    The Phillies signed Frandsen to that contract in the offseason, avoiding arbitration. He led the majors with 14 pinch-hits last season. This spring, Frandsen was hitting .206 with no extra-base hits in 34 at-bats.

    • DaveB - Mar 26, 2014 at 8:45 AM

      He already opted out of that contract and chose to become a free agent. Looks like he must really have interest from other teams … I’ve always liked his play … I’d be surprised if the Yankees aren’t looking at him also, as they really need a backup (or even starting) 3B.
      Seems like less of a fit for us, as he has mostly been 3B / 2B, but he has played some at 1B also, so would mean that we didn’t always have to shift the whole infield around if ALR needed a day off.

  40. Sec 3 My Sofa - Mar 26, 2014 at 8:55 AM

    Frandsen cleared waivers and now has 72 hours to accept his assignment. If he opts to become a free agent, he will forfeit this year’s salary, a guaranteed $900,000. He is likely to accept the assignment.

    Unless he or his agent has a good reason to think he can get more elsewhere. Just saying.

Archives

NL EAST STANDINGS

W L GB
WASHINGTON 55 43 --
ATLANTA 54 46 2.0
MIAMI 47 52 8.5
NEW YORK 47 53 9.0
PHILADELPHIA 43 57 13.0
Through Tuesday's games

UPCOMING SCHEDULE
WED: Nats at Rockies, 3:10 p.m.
THU: OFF
FRI: Nats at Reds, 7:10 p.m.
SAT: Nats at Reds, 4:05 p.m.
SUN: Nats at Reds, 1:10 p.m.
MON: Nats at Marlins, 7:10 p.m.
TUE: Nats at Marlins, 7:10 p.m.
Full season schedule

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TUE: 2:30 p.m.
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