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Roster of position players now set

Mar 26, 2014, 7:31 PM EDT

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PORT ST. LUCIE, Fla. — The Nationals optioned utilityman Jeff Kobernus to Class AAA Syracuse and catcher Sandy Leon to Class AA Harrisburg this evening, moves that in turn finalized their Opening Day roster of position players.

Today’s signing of veteran infielder Kevin Frandsen was the last piece of the puzzle, leaving no available spots for Kobernus and Leon, who both appeared in the Nationals’ 3-2 loss to the Cardinals in Jupiter before being sent down.

Those final moves leave only 13 position players left in big-league camp, the 13 who (barring a last-minute trade or injury) will head north Thursday evening and open the season on the roster.

That group includes Danny Espinosa, whose spot on the team had appeared secure for some time but is now secure. The 26-year-old infielder, who was demoted to Syracuse last season after hitting .158 in 44 games and was never recalled, will most likely make the roster as a backup at both second base and shortstop. Manager Matt Williams hasn’t officially named his starting second baseman, but all indications for weeks have suggested Anthony Rendon will get the job.

With their roster of position players and reliever now set, the only remaining question for the Nationals is the identity of their No. 5 starter, with a decision between Tanner Roark and Taylor Jordan expected to be made Saturday.

Here, then, is how the Opening Day roster will look (aside from that final pitching decision)…

CATCHERS (2)
Wilson Ramos
Jose Lobaton

INFIELDERS (6)
Adam LaRoche
Anthony Rendon
Ian Desmond
Ryan Zimmerman
Danny Espinosa
Kevin Frandsen

OUTFIELDERS (5)
Bryce Harper
Denard Span
Jayson Werth
Nate McLouth
Scott Hairston

STARTING PITCHERS (5)
Stephen Strasburg
Gio Gonzalez
Jordan Zimmermann
Doug Fister
Tanner Roark/Taylor Jordan

RELIEF PITCHERS (7)
Rafael Soriano
Drew Storen
Tyler Clippard
Craig Stammen
Ross Detwiler
Jerry Blevins
Aaron Barrett

  1. sunshinebobby - Mar 26, 2014 at 7:47 PM

    Congratulations to Rizzo on the Frandsen move. He’s the super-sub we’ve been needing. A friend in Philly (Yes, I have one) says we will love the way this guy plays. Old school, just like Matt. Also, he will have pine tar up to the label by midsummer. Total gamer. Versatile. Plus, a pinch-hitting fiend.

    Our bench is the biggest improvement over 2013. McLouth would start nearly anywhere, the good Espi is a quality backup (bad Espi is a cancer) and I still have faith in Hairston being able to win a game or two off the bench.

    Plus, Barrett is a huge addition to the pen.

    The Best 25, come north!

    • trochlis318 - Mar 26, 2014 at 7:51 PM

      nah its more like the best 24 plus espinosa come north LOL, but seriously love the improvement to our bench

      • pdowdy83 - Mar 27, 2014 at 11:03 AM

        As long as Espinosa isn’t the starter than he is far superior to any of the other backup infield options. He has good speed, some pop and a ridiculous glove. That makes him a valuable bench guy.

  2. wearenationals - Mar 26, 2014 at 7:51 PM

    I would’ve preferred the team’s homegrown players like Moore, Walters or Kobernus go north as the 24th and 25th players, rather than Hairston and the new guy. It’s a looong season, so I’m sure we’ll see the guys from AAA/AA this summer… Now let’s play ball!!!

    • nats128 - Mar 26, 2014 at 8:14 PM

      While that makes for a great story Im willing to ride this out and see if this bench is on a “perform or perish” scenario. Someone earlier today laid out the poor history of Rizzo’s 25th men: Stairs, Nady, Tracy, Hairston. Could Hairston revert back to what he was 3 years ago for the Mets and can Frandsen be what he was 2 years ago for the Phoolies.

  3. Theophilus T.S. - Mar 26, 2014 at 8:03 PM

    This has become a Mexican soap opera.

    Roark starts, Jordan goes down. In all probability, Jordan comes up at some point in the course of the season but, in the meantime, they’ll be better able to manage his innings at Syracuse.There may not be a hard cap but they don”t really want him over 170 innings this summer.

    I’m not in favor of Fransden; he’s trending down and is crap on the field — sort of Chad Tracy without the hype. But it validates my position favoring Carroll (or Kobernus) over Hairston. They needed the extra IF more than the extra OF. I’m just not getting my choice for the fifth OF. (How many times can you say, “Moore needs more ABs?” How do you know how many ABs he needs if you don’t play him?)

    • naterialguy - Mar 26, 2014 at 10:04 PM

      buzz kill
      debbie downer
      come this the time rose tinted glasses
      it’s all good

    • Adam - Mar 27, 2014 at 10:58 AM

      What’s the difference between an American and Mexican soap opera

      • scbilly - Mar 27, 2014 at 11:55 AM

        The masks?

  4. scnatsfan - Mar 26, 2014 at 8:18 PM

    I like the roster. And it’s great to know should any of these guys get hurt or slump badly that capable replacements are a phone call away. Not your Father’s Nats for sure.

    • NatsNut - Mar 26, 2014 at 9:27 PM

      Like

  5. nats128 - Mar 26, 2014 at 8:20 PM

    James Wagner on the bench: “The moves also sets the Nationals bench for opening day. It will include Frandsen, along with catcher Jose Lobaton, outfielders Nate McLouth and Scott Hairston, whose spring struggles cast some doubt on his status.”

    I can appreciate the honesty in saying that from Wagner.

  6. Joe Seamhead - Mar 26, 2014 at 8:26 PM

    On Frandsen:

    The Good: He can pinch hit, puts the ball in play, has a very, very low strikeout rate. He has played multiple positions in his career. He comes with an old fashioned chip on his shoulder. I think he is a better fit for this team, at this time, than Moore, Kobernus, or any of the other younger, homegrown guys.I also think that the Phillies weakened themselves further by the way they (Ruben Amaro) played this.

    The Bad: his overall batting average plunged last year, and yes I know it’s only spring training, but he has had a very poor spring.

    The Ugly: He can look horrible with the glove sometimes. In 2012 he played 52 games at third and was charged with 7 errors. That averages out to about 22 errors over 162 games. I can’t remember for sure, but I believe he went to 3rd when Polonco got hurt.

    • NatsLady - Mar 26, 2014 at 9:43 PM

      I don’t think he’ll play 3B here. Rendon will do that, with Danny taking 2B if Zimm needs a day off. I think we saw enough of Chad Tracy at third to be cured of that type of experiment.

      • David Proctor - Mar 26, 2014 at 9:45 PM

        I didn’t think Tracy was that bad at third except for that one infamous throw into the stands against the Fish

      • Doc - Mar 26, 2014 at 11:21 PM

        I think that I should pick up for Tracy and say, as DP has corroborated, that he was pretty good at 3B in the few times Davey called upon him.

        Still would like ARen to take over 3B, over Frandsen, when the situation merits it.

  7. nats128 - Mar 26, 2014 at 8:32 PM

    For stats nuts, BaseballReference.com added to there stats the Quality Of Opposing Pitcher Value scale just to give you a idea of what the batters are facing.

    http://www.baseball-reference.com/teams/WSN/2014.shtml

    Does it taint Souza or Walters successes? You can decide. Both faced pitchers rated between AA & AAA quality on average.

    • David Proctor - Mar 26, 2014 at 8:36 PM

      And Barrett was facing AA level talent. I think Barrett’s stuff plays fine so I’m not concerned, but it’s something to keep an eye on at least. He dominated 3 Cardinals regulars today in his inning (though admittedly one was the backup C).

      • natinalsgo - Mar 26, 2014 at 8:42 PM

        Barrett faced enough of both MLB types and fringe players to get a good idea.

        That BaseballRef site is getting better all the time. They responded to requests to gauge the competition. I really like what they did!

        +1

      • nats128 - Mar 26, 2014 at 8:55 PM

        AJ Cole pitched to a 0.00 ERA against the 3rd most experienced set of batters. Thats impressive.

      • NatsLady - Mar 26, 2014 at 9:48 PM

        Just don’t look at Verlander’s stats. That guy does NOT believe in giving up runs. Poor Cliff Lee gave up 1 run in the 1st inning today and lost 1-0.

        By the way, did you guys see this shocker. Kershaw will not make his next start.

        http://www.sportsinjuryalert.com/2014/03/dodgers-clayton-kershaw-back-will-not.html#.UzOCzPldXng

  8. Section 222 - Mar 26, 2014 at 9:50 PM

    Boy, we sure wasted a lot of ink on the question of whether the 25th man would be Moore or Carroll, or, for about 24 hours, Leon or Kobernus. Just shows once again, Rizzo is many steps ahead of everyone. I expect we’ll see all of these guys (except Carroll) at some point this year. But for now, the best 25 will be going north, and I think it’s a pretty impressive group. Can’t wait to get it started.

  9. Doc - Mar 26, 2014 at 10:11 PM

    Souza for Hairston by June!

    • nats128 - Mar 27, 2014 at 7:57 AM

      Because Souza is a outfielder and Walters is a infielder it could get Souza promoted first. Of the players who didnt make the squad Souza, Walters and Treinen opened alot of eyes.

      They all need to show that there stats in ST werent a fluke!

  10. Drew - Mar 26, 2014 at 10:20 PM

    I still think Kobe has a beef.

    Aaron Barrett joins Bryce Harper as the second member of the Nats’ 2010 draft class to make the big leagues.

    Classmates Sammy Solis, A.J. Cole and Robbie Ray are good bets to reach the majors.

    A couple of others are probably longshots. Jason Martinson got a couple of ABs in Viera. David Freitas, the Prodigal Backstop, is now in the Orioles’ chain.

    • nats128 - Mar 27, 2014 at 7:58 AM

      I see what you did there Kobe Beef!

  11. NatsLady - Mar 26, 2014 at 10:30 PM

    Wonder if Lannan is hurt. He came in in the 7th inning, gave up two waks and was pulled from the game. (This was after Dillon Gee shut out the Astros for 6 innings…).

    http://mlb.mlb.com/mlb/gameday/index.jsp?gid=2014_03_26_nynmlb_houmlb_1&mode=box

  12. philipd763 - Mar 26, 2014 at 11:16 PM

    Dillon Gee becomes Adam Wainwright when he faces the Nationals. I believe he is pitching the opener against the Nats.

  13. ehay2k - Mar 27, 2014 at 7:53 AM

    Frandsen? Rizzo broke my bracket! (It’s hard to pick the 25 when you don’t even know all the players you can use.)

    Was Frandsen a MW pick as much as Rizzo’s? If his BA drops off a lot (he is not here for his defense) will they let him go and bring up someone from the minors? It’s easier to cut someone who is not a chum.

    But you never know with the bench until they play. I believe in 2012 the bench looked suspect, but they got the job done. Last year, not so much.

    Remember Jonny Gomes? He was a whipping boy for a lot of people. Now he has a ring. Hard to fret about things which cannot be reliably predicted.

    This is arghuable the best 25 we had available, so north they come.

    • nats128 - Mar 27, 2014 at 8:00 AM

      Changes of scenery can some times be like a career changer, good or bad.

  14. Joe Seamhead - Mar 27, 2014 at 7:54 AM

    Firkin Fridays coming to Half Street. It really warms my insides knowing that along with a very good baseball team, there will be a greater selection of local craft beers and they will be available at more locations around the stadium. I get all warm and fuzzy just thinking of a 70 degree evening, good beer in hand, and a 3 run lead over the Braves!
    Let’s get this show off the road, Come on home boys and play ball!

    • sjm308 - Mar 27, 2014 at 8:22 AM

      Seam – walk two blocks toward Yards Park & enjoy the first brewpub near the ball parl!
      BlUejacket was opened by the guy who owns Churchkey
      All beers are brewed on site and excellent food as well
      It will be great to sit out on the patio, looking at the park, drinking good craft beer

      Go Nats

      • sjm308 - Mar 27, 2014 at 8:23 AM

        “Ball park “. Auto spell?

      • micksback1 - Mar 27, 2014 at 11:16 AM

        you know it Coach!

    • Sec 3 My Sofa - Mar 27, 2014 at 8:57 AM

      Pretty Firkin Bueno!

      Should we add a ‘Meet-up spots’ category to the NIDO+? What do you all think?

  15. ehay2k - Mar 27, 2014 at 7:54 AM

    Arguably.. Gahh, need that edit button

  16. rabbit433 - Mar 27, 2014 at 7:55 AM

    The roster looks like a winner!!

  17. natsjackinfl - Mar 27, 2014 at 8:23 AM

    For people wondering about the Fransden pick up, I’d be willing to bet Jayson Werth had something to do with it.

    • Hiram Hover - Mar 27, 2014 at 8:32 AM

      I’ll bite – why? They never played in Philly or anywhere else at the same time, I don’t think.

      • natinalsgo - Mar 27, 2014 at 8:59 AM

        Good point.

    • Sec 3 My Sofa - Mar 27, 2014 at 8:53 AM

      Likewise curious. By “something to do with it,” do you mean some affirmative input into the decision, or just Rizzo thinking “hey, I bet Jayson would like this guy.”?

      • natsjackinfl - Mar 27, 2014 at 8:59 AM

        Exactly. Who on the Nats has the most connections player and Scout wise than Jayson?

        I’m not saying he was in on the decision but he more than probably was asked what he knew about the player.

  18. laddieblahblah - Mar 27, 2014 at 8:56 AM

    This should be a championship year. I don’t think Rizzo is done. The Frandsen pickup was a sudden opportunity that he took in the blink of an eye. If another comes up, that will further improve the bench, or the pen, I think he’ll take that opportunity, too.

    Been emailing with Ghost, and he has, I think, a great idea for Walters as a 5th outfielder, late game power pinch hitter, like Hairston and Tracy, only much better, and he can swing from both sides of the plate, as well. Having him in that role would minimize his defensive liabilities while taking advantage of his single greatest asset – hitting for power. Too bad there is no DH in the NL. His limited skill set seems made for it. And he may yet learn how to catch and throw a baseball. At 24, he has plenty of time to learn.

    If Hairston falters, Rizzo has a home-grown replacement a phone call away.

    • natinalsgo - Mar 27, 2014 at 9:06 AM

      All good thoughts. That’s big of Ghost to say considering he wasn’t a fan of Walters fielding at shortstop. So you are thinking his offense isn’t a mirage but the Nats have infield covered if Danny can play well. Again good out of the box thinking and I think Rizzo has Walters at 2nd more in case Rendon goes back to 3rd.

      I’m liking Souza. That kid has baseball smarts. He scored a run and made a slide while getting the hand in on the plate that was amazing showing speed and athleticism.

      • natinalsgo - Mar 27, 2014 at 9:11 AM

        Well it worked well for Alex Gordon and Alfonso Soriano and many others and some kid named Bryce Harper. I do agree the Walters experiment at SS is not getting better as his per game errors in the Minors is increasing instead of decreasing. His arm is a gun. The comparisons to Desi is just a comparison with different metrics and different timing. 5 years ago Walters makes this team.

      • laddieblahblah - Mar 27, 2014 at 9:33 AM

        “So you are thinking his offense isn’t a mirage but the Nats have infield covered if Danny can play well.”

        Yes, re Walters, no, re Danny. We have both soured on Danny after yesterday’s embarrassing AB with the bases loaded. Funny, we were both watching yesterday’s game and sent each other simultaneous emails that crossed in the cybersphere, both saying, essentially, the same thing about the same old, same old Danny Espinosa.

        I defended Danny here, the other day. Never again. I wish Rizzo would just cut him loose. Honestly. The Nats do not need personal drama on such a great team.

        Consider, Gonat, the Nats have 4 immensely talented players on the cusp of breaking out: Stras, Harp, Rendon, and Ramos. Each has been held back by injuries in recent years. They all look healthy now, all have at least one year in the MLs under their belt, and all are playing on a team that is loaded, so there will not be pressure on any one of them to carry the team (OK, except for Harper, who loves the pressure, anyway). I can’t remember another team with 4 such prodigious talents all on the cusp of breaking out, on the same team, at the same time.

        Ghost and I both like Walters’ bat, and we both like Souza as a possible call-up and future player. He is one of those guys who is an athlete as well as a player. We talked about how to minimize Walters iron glove and shaky arm. I thought, maybe the old Tracy role, at 1b and 3rd base. That big first baseman’s mitt might help him snag, or, at least, knock down a higher percentage of grounders, and the damage from his arm would be minimized there, at least in the IF. The OF seems like a better option, though, since he would have far fewer chances to screw up, and has enough speed and a strong enough arm to make him, at least in theory, as good as, or better than Hairston out there.

        Frandsen, as Davey would say about Espinosa, is a “dirt bag,” but a dirt bag with his head screwed on straight. Ghost was skeptical, at first, but I pointed out that Frandsen was the ML’s best pinch hitter last year. He replied that Frandsen had bad splits from the left side, and I reminded him that the Nats have had a chronic weakness against lefties – i.e. Frandsen’s greatest strengths (pinch hitting in the clutch, mashing against lefties) happen to match the Nats’ greatest weaknesses.

        He’s not Espinosa with the glove, but he is a much better fit for this team, and especially for a Matt Williams coached team – a scrapper and a fighter who is about winning, and not about himself.

      • natinalsgo - Mar 27, 2014 at 9:44 AM

        Wow, call me impressed. I see you’ve both put a lot of thought in it. Shaky shortstops sometimes make great 2nd baseman. He’s 6’4″ and 1st base could also work. I like the LF idea I just don’t think Riz will like it. The kid isn’t getting younger and I hope they make a decision soon.

        On Frandsen I think you mean splits against Righties as he hits the lefties well.

        We can all agree on Espinosa’s last AB. Even Mark Z commented that it looked like 2013 on that AB. Sickening. Could be Frandsen is here just in case Danny melts down but in that case a shame they cut Carroll loose as he would have filled the temp spot well and there’s nobody who backsup SS well.

      • Hiram Hover - Mar 27, 2014 at 9:50 AM

        Laddie

        Can’t fault yours or Mark’s criticism of that last AB–but I’d caution against drawing final and absolute conclusions based on one AB in ST.

        Even at his best, Danny was and always will have a high K rate–expecting him to totally unlearn that and become a completely different batter is unrealistic.

        The best we can hope for are incremental improvements to move his K rate back down into the high but tolerable range. And some of those Ks are going to continue to look like yesterday’s. That’s sad for him and annoying for us, but it doesn’t mean he has no value.

      • natinalsgo - Mar 27, 2014 at 9:58 AM

        I’m worried that Danny knew he had a roster spot and than he mind warped back. It was mind-blowing and troublesome. I TiVo’d and watched it and he was not direct to the ball and instead looked like Mark Z said a 2013 flashback. 3 swing and misses. Danny of all people can’t derivate from his new approach that clearly was working. The whole game he dropped his hands and went upper cut.

      • Eric - Mar 27, 2014 at 9:58 AM

        “I defended Danny here, the other day. Never again. I wish Rizzo would just cut him loose. Honestly. The Nats do not need personal drama on such a great team.”

        With all due respect to those who are understandably fed up with Espi, the only drama I’ve ever seen around him comes from the hallowed halls of the intertron. IMO, a man being frustrated by his poor performance and disappointed by a demotion is normal human behavior. I think his attitude this year pretty firmly puts to bed any notion that he is embittered about things in any way.

        Getting back to baseball, reading the reactions to Espi is like watching a weather vane in a hurricane:
        “He’s on the interstate…sure, it’s spring training and his SOs are way down, but…history man! Trade him!”
        “Holy moly! He hit 2 home runs, including a walk off! He’s redeemed!”
        “::: facepalm ::: Big whiff with bases loaded. Unstring his glove and toss his bat in the chipper; he’s toast.”

        His K rate is still only 18%, 5 points below last Spring Training and 9 points below his career average.

        Drama indeed ;)

      • natinalsgo - Mar 27, 2014 at 10:03 AM

        Eric with all due respect we have seen this from Dan before. LaddieBlahBlah was slightly over the top but even our great Blogmaster made immediate mention. You have to wonder which Espi we get the next time the situation is there like that. Model citizen than his old self reappears. I’m troubled and started singing Dannys praises.

      • Eric - Mar 27, 2014 at 10:09 AM

        I never said it shouldn’t be mentioned, or that I don’t understand being concerned.

        It just seems that people shift their outlook on him with every at bat.

        And, it seems that people project Internet arguments about the man onto the man himself, as though Espi is unprofessional about his situation. I just don’t get that, although it’s a pretty common phenomenon (much worse in politics, for instance).

        I am by no means confident that Espi has put his troubles behind him, but I do see progress in his most problematic area (SO). It sounds like yesterday was a set back; how he moves on from here is what’s important, imo.

      • natinalsgo - Mar 27, 2014 at 10:14 AM

        It’s the swing, not the strikeout. Espi has burned his Managers and Batting Coaches before. Why does he revert back. If he K’d on good swings then fine. He’s struck out this Spring on good compact swings. Yesterday was 2013 all over again. It’s not the K it’s the swing.

      • Eric - Mar 27, 2014 at 10:17 AM

        Right, hence “setback”

        If he continues with that swing, that will be Bad News.

        If he doesn’t?

      • natinalsgo - Mar 27, 2014 at 10:21 AM

        He’s on the team. I’m hoping for the best. I don’t want to be labeled a hater just back to “skeptical realist”.

      • Hiram Hover - Mar 27, 2014 at 11:02 AM

        I am a hater of that big loopy swing, but the skeptical realist in me knows we’re still going to see it sometimes.

      • natinalsgo - Mar 27, 2014 at 11:05 AM

        Well said HH!!!

      • Eric - Mar 27, 2014 at 11:03 AM

        I’m with you on being a skeptic…the only reason I’m not in full on ambivalence (at best) mode is that his SO has remained so low over 50 at bats, especially since it’s been a pretty steady pace, not wild swings from lots of strike outs to steady contact and back again.

        But, yeah, small sample size, yesterday’s setback, etc., mean there’s still significant daylight between here and “Espi’s figured it out.”

      • natinalsgo - Mar 27, 2014 at 11:10 AM

        Eric, his strikeouts were low because his mechanics had been perfect until yesterday. It’s the same approach if you golf. The shorter swings with your irons gives you a more accurate swing compared to a longer swing with your driver. Mechanically similar and while speed off the bat is slower there is a sacrifice of distance over control. Espi still hit 2 HRs and instead of 425 foot HRs they may only go 390. Espi has to stick with the plan because it was working!

      • Eric - Mar 27, 2014 at 11:41 AM

        “Espi has to stick with the plan because it was working!”

        Agreed!

    • Joe Seamhead - Mar 27, 2014 at 9:51 AM

      You guys always lose me with the “he can’t play the infield, so let’s stick him in the outfield” mentality.

      • natinalsgo - Mar 27, 2014 at 10:45 AM

        Until the NL has a DH you have to find a place for a guy who can hit. I said 2nd base would be the place but 1st base is also an option.

        I disagree with NatsJack as Desi every year got better in fielding and Walters has increasingly gotten worse.

        2010 23 errors, 2011 24 errors, 2012 31 errors, 2013 38 errors. Not going in the direction you would expect. By the way Zach has made NO errors at 2nd with 11 games there. His career fielding % at 3rd is .919 in 52 games. 1 game played in RF by the way.

      • Jb - Mar 27, 2014 at 10:56 AM

        That mentality is called Rigglethink.

      • texnat1 - Mar 27, 2014 at 11:29 AM

        Joe, On the one hand, I hear you. On the other, what do you want to do, give up? He isn’t showing that he can play the infield and he is still young enough to try another position.

    • Section 222 - Mar 27, 2014 at 10:01 AM

      Wait, Ghost is suggesting trying yet another Nats infielder in the outfield? What’s next? Move Desi to CF when Span’s contract is up? The idea that Walters would not be a defensive liability at a position that he’s never played before seems farfetched.

      I keep waiting for the Ghost of the Ghost of Steve M. to make an appearance here. Or has he given up the ghost on this blog?

      • laddieblahblah - Mar 27, 2014 at 11:22 AM

        I am still trying to get him to relent, but with no luck, so far.

        “The idea that Walters would not be a defensive liability at a position that he’s never played before seems farfetched.”

        Yes, it would. And who is making such a proposition? He would be much less of a liability out there than he would be playing the IF, at least at his present skill level. That is the proposition being made.

        Gonat made an interesting point about his play at 2nd base being acceptable. The guy has a switch-hitting power bat. Finding a place for that kind of bat is not a bad problem to have. If you’ve got the solution, pipe up!

  19. wearenationals - Mar 27, 2014 at 9:01 AM

    MLBTR: “The Nationals have re-signed Mike Gonzalez, who was released on Tuesday, the team announced.”

    Welcome back, Mike?

    • natinalsgo - Mar 27, 2014 at 9:11 AM

      Interesting that nobody else picked him up.

      • pdowdy83 - Mar 27, 2014 at 11:12 AM

        Odds are he never negotiated with another team. The Nationals “cut him” to avoid the $100 retention bonus he would have gotten and as soon as they cut him were probably working on a new deal with a different opt out date. He made it that late into the offseason before signing so there wasn’t a ton of interest in him. I think he chose to come back because he knows he is only 1 injury away from a big league job and he has already played in Syracuse so he has some level of comfort there as well. Just my thoughts though.

      • Eric - Mar 27, 2014 at 12:18 PM

        Avoid the $100 retention bonus? They’re really pinching Benjamins, eh? I wonder if Benjamin’s into that sort of thing. ;)

      • natinalsgo - Mar 27, 2014 at 12:22 PM

        That $100 must be a trunkload of $100’s!

  20. Joe Seamhead - Mar 27, 2014 at 10:11 AM

    If we can’t get an “edit” button, it would at least be nice to have a “like” button.

    • Eric - Mar 27, 2014 at 10:21 AM

      [like]

  21. natsjackinfl - Mar 27, 2014 at 10:27 AM

    I saw enough improvement in Zach Walters infield play to have hope the same transformation that occurred with Desmond might be taking place with him.

    I am pretty sure the message Matt Williams gave the kid was just that, “work on your defense and show us you are continuing to improve and we’ll see you in DC before the season is over”.

    There is no doubt his bat will play and he even showed a better plate discipline than he has in the past.

    I know I like him and will be pulling for him.

    • Joe Seamhead - Mar 27, 2014 at 10:31 AM

      Like, or +1, or whatever.

    • natinalsgo - Mar 27, 2014 at 10:55 AM

      That was almost the exact quote Matt gave Walters in the way out the door. Ian Desmond was fortunate the Nats were horrible when he was called up. Walters doesn’t have the same opportunity. He needs to play every day and improve and show he is better than what his real Minor League stats say.

      Ian Desmond was 1 in 100 and not many of us (you and me) included believed in him and most of Desi’s errors you will remember were making brain-fart plays where he improved that part of his game which was mental. Walters just boots balls and throws well off target. 2nd base would relieve the pressure and as I mentioned above has NO errors in his career at 2nd base. The kid has an arm.

      • pdowdy83 - Mar 27, 2014 at 11:15 AM

        Walters has one of the strongest arms in the minors. It would be a shame to waste that on 2nd base. He makes more fielding errors than throwing so that may not be his biggest problem. It would be worth trying him in the outfield in the minors this year just to turn him into a Ben Zobrist type of utility player. His arm would be a nice asset in the outfield and his ability to play the infield in a pinch is good. I think a lot of the mental errors, as with Desmond, are something that gets better as players age. Derek Jeter made a TON of errors in the minors and while I view him as overrated defensively at the major league level he was still more than adequate once he aged too.

      • natinalsgo - Mar 27, 2014 at 11:22 AM

        One of the best posts on the subject. Also Danny has a gun arm and used it as an asset at 2nd. No matter what we say in a Blog, Rizzo will give Walters one last shot at SS in AAA. I’m not as optimistic as NatsJack.

        I saw Walters in Arizona Fall League. He booted 3 balls in 1 inning and the Official Scorer I think felt sorry for him and ruled one of them a hit. Walters I think is worse than the stats as he has to glove balls that clank off his glove. Just because they are ruled a hit doesnt mean the play shouldnt have been made.

      • laddieblahblah - Mar 27, 2014 at 11:34 AM

        Yeah, about Desi. I was one of the skeptics, but Ghost always had faith in him.

        Billy Ripken did a feature on MLB specifically on Desi’s throwing problems. He used video and freeze frame to illustrate that Desi’s main problem was rushing throws when trying to gun down a speedster. He froze the frame as Desi was shown to release his throw too early (rushing it) before his throwing arm was fully extended. The result is an upward trajectory, and in the case of the example shown, the ball sailed over ALR’s head all the way into the 3rd row behind 1b. He then had a video of a virtually identical play on a slow runner, where Desi threw the ball with arm fully extended. Hit ALR chest high between the numbers.

        Then Ripken showed another pair of throws with Desi having to move to his left. With the fast runner, he did not take the extra split second to properly set his feet, throwing well wide of ALR down the RF foul line. With the slower guy, on an identical play, he took the extra time needed to properly set his feet, and threw another strike to 1b.

        He has steadily improved those throwing mechanics every year since he first arrived. Maybe Walters can, too. Or maybe he can handle 2nd base, instead of SS or 3B.

      • natinalsgo - Mar 27, 2014 at 11:42 AM

        Good info! I don’t think we can make comparisons to Desi every time the system has a bumbling shortstop nor do I believe every bumbling shortstop has to be banished to the outfield but in Walters case I don’t think 3rd or SS are in his future and he isn’t going to pitch or play catcher which leaves 2nd, 1st and the outfield as viable options. I’m just one person with an opinion that doesn’t matter but what Ghost says does matter to me. What NatsJack says does matter to me and I like what you say Laddie. ;)

    • laddieblahblah - Mar 27, 2014 at 11:23 AM

      Thanks, Jack. That’s encouraging and good to know that the Nats are trying to find a place for that bat.

      • natinalsgo - Mar 27, 2014 at 12:21 PM

        Do you know where Scott Hairston played his first 3 years in the Minors? Strictly infield. His fielding percentage at 3rd was .868 in the Minors. At 2nd it was .948. They moved him exclusively to the outfield. He was a hitter back then. They found a spot where he was serviceable.

        Section222 and others can joke about it. Heck, Werth started as a catcher and 1st baseman. If you can hit, they will find a position for you.

Archives

FINAL NL EAST STANDINGS

W L GB
x-WASHINGTON 96 66 --
ATLANTA 79 83 17.0
NEW YORK 79 83 17.0
MIAMI 77 85 19.0
PHILADELPHIA 73 89 23.0

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NL WILD CARD GAME
WED: Giants at Pirates, 8:07 p.m. (ESPN)

NLDS
FRI: Game 1, Pirates at Nats, 12:07 p.m.,
OR Giants at Nats, 3:07 p.m. (FS1)
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