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Schierholtz called up, Taylor sent back to Syracuse

Aug 23, 2014, 2:48 PM EDT

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The Nationals signed Nate Schierholtz to a minor-league deal on Monday, thinking the veteran outfielder wouldn’t need much time in Syracuse before joining the big-league roster.

Turns out he only needed four days at Class AAA.

Schierholtz had his contract purchased Saturday by the Nationals, who felt the time was right to add an experienced, left-handed bat to their bench. He replaces rookie outfielder Michael Taylor, who was optioned back to Syracuse after a 2-week debut in the majors.

“He’s got some ABs under his belt,” manager Matt Williams said. “We’ve been so right-handed dominant off the bench, it gives us an opportunity to have a lefty later in the game. He’s got certainly the ability to play all three outfield positions, experience, had a great year last year, he can run, he can throw, he’s got power. All of those things add up to bringing him here as quickly as we can. He’s ready to go.”

Schierholtz, 30, played the last four days for Syracuse, going 3-for-19 with a homer and four RBI (all three hits came on Wednesday) while striking out six times. Results, though, were less important to him than the mere fact he was able to get significant playing time for four days after sitting out two weeks following his release by the Cubs.

“Obviously I had a couple weeks back home, which isn’t ideal to any player,” he said. “But I feel like at this point of the season, you get back into the swing of things pretty quick. … I got enough time there, I feel like, to be ready.”

On the heels of a 21-homer season for Chicago, Schierholtz found himself out of work after hitting just .192 in 99 games with the Cubs this year. He preferred not to delve much into his struggles but expressed confidence his new surroundings could get him back on track.

“There’s probably a lot of reasons, but for me, I’m just excited for a fresh start here,” he said. “I’ve kind of put the first half behind me and I’m ready to start in a winning environment. I feel like it’s a positive place here already, first day. I’m looking forward to it.”

Schierholtz’s arrival prompted the Nationals to option Taylor back to Class AAA, where he spent only four days himself before a surprise big-league debut two weeks ago after a spate of injuries to Nats outfielders. The 23-year-old, one of the organization’s top prospects, went 2-for-4 with a homer in his debut game Aug. 12 but was 1-for-14 since then.

Taylor will return to Syracuse for now, with a likely promotion back to Washington once rosters expand Sept. 1.

“Michael will go back and play a little bit,” Williams said. “We’ll see how that goes in September.”

To clear space for Schierholtz on the 40-man roster, the Nationals transferred Nate McLouth to the 60-day DL. The veteran outfielder had season-ending surgery for aright shoulder tear this week.

  1. Ghost of Steve M. - Aug 23, 2014 at 2:54 PM

    Edwin Jackson out of the Cubs rotation. Just another example of what you did 3 years ago doesn’t matter on current year production.

    • Hiram Hover - Aug 23, 2014 at 2:59 PM

      Wow – you just won’t let it go, will you?

      • Ghost of Steve M. - Aug 23, 2014 at 3:07 PM

        We are in a different era. Guys can’t just fix their problems with Anabolic steroids any more.

        When you realize making pickups based on a wing and a prayer generally only works about 1 out of 10 times, you realize that recent stats are what count most.

        The Barves found that out the hard way with BJ Upton.

        Fister was quality when Rizzo traded for him plus the National League bump. Asdrubal is slightly ahead of expectations. Thornton looking great in small sample.

        Several other pickups the last few years to take back of the rotation, bench, and front of the bullpen have been awful.

        Schierholtz could be like Dobbs in the short-term and the same long-term. I don’t know but he’s far from a sure thing.

      • Hiram Hover - Aug 23, 2014 at 4:50 PM

        C’mon, Ghost. No one is talking about paying Schierholtz $75M to be our starting CF.

        You really are getting carried away on this subject.

  2. Ghost of Steve M. - Aug 23, 2014 at 2:59 PM

    “Turns out he only needed four days at Class AAA.”

    Needed? That’s not necessarily true. Rizzo decided to call him up after 4 days at AAA. That’s a big difference in statements. For a player who had been away from playing as long as Schierholtz, 4 days doesn’t sound like enough. He had 19 ABs and K’d in 6 of them and that was against AAA pitching.

    What was the rush? Rizzo had until Aug 31 to make this move.

  3. Joe Seamhead - Aug 23, 2014 at 3:11 PM

    After his debut game Michael Taylor was totally overmatched by ML pitching. He may, or may not, be able to adjust to big league curves, but I think that he’ll need at least a whole spring to work against it to find out.

    On a happy note, my grandsons, 8 and 10 years old, were signed up in the Nats Kids Club for the past two years and each year 75 kids from the program get picked to have a full morning workout with Nats coaches and a surprise Nats player. Well, long story short both of my grandkids got picked. They got to hang out in the dugout, worked out with the Nats coaches, Rick Schu pitched batting practice in the cages, and then they got to spend time with Michael Taylor and got several autographs. Not a bad day in the life. Plus they each got 4 free tix to tomorrow’s game!

    • Ghost of Steve M. - Aug 23, 2014 at 3:15 PM

      I said that after 4 games and got bashed. He was swinging like Danny Kaye. Very disappointing after a fun debut. This is the Majors. You swing for 93 and they throw you 85. If he doesn’t swing more compact in 1 and 2 strike voy rd he will have the same hype and career of the other top prospect Michael Taylor from Cheverly Maryland.

      • Section 222 - Aug 23, 2014 at 4:07 PM

        Agree with everything you said here except for the “I got bashed.” Four days after his arrival, your view was the majority opinion.

        Nobody’s bashing you about Schierholtz either. Some are just a little more hopeful. And since Taylor has so little value to us now, what’s the harm? Bring Souza back in September and choose between him, Schierholtz and Hairston for the postseason. If Zim comes back, Danny is the odd man out.

        That’s how I see it anyway.

      • Ghost of Steve M. - Aug 23, 2014 at 4:15 PM

        I agree on RZim vs Danny. I loved what Davey did with TyMo in Game 1 when he came in and got the game winning hit.

        Souza or TyMo add more than Hairston.

      • Section 222 - Aug 23, 2014 at 4:46 PM

        Seems like TyMo’s ship has sailed. If Rizzo/MW thought that he could add more in the playoffs than Hairston/Souza, they’d have to bring him up before Sept. 1, right? Doesn’t look like that’s going to happen. If things continue as they are now, it’s pretty clear that they think that veteran experience is more important than youthful pop. I think I’d like to see a combination — Souza and Schierholtz. But I’m not holding my breath.

      • Ghost of Steve M. - Aug 23, 2014 at 6:55 PM

        I agree with you on TyMo. With Walters gone he could find a place on the bench next year but Souza has moved in front of him.

    • Ghost of Steve M. - Aug 23, 2014 at 3:16 PM

      Cool story about your Grandkids. That’s how you build a fanbase, from the youth.

    • letswin3 - Aug 23, 2014 at 3:20 PM

      Now THAT’ cool. They will never forget that experience.

    • Joe Seamhead - Aug 23, 2014 at 3:27 PM

      And I haven’t piped in about Schierholtz because I don’t feel like I know enough about him one way, or another.I do feel confident in saying that Taylor wasn’t going to be able to contribute at the plate right now. And I think there is no doubt that he is fast, but do any of you really know that he can right now successfully contribute more than Schierholtz? I sure can’t say that I know.

      Also, we all ask, “Why did Matt use Hairston,” or “Why Blevins, Espy,Soriano etc?” Well, Williams has these guys on the roster and this is the roster he has been given. He is going to use all 25 guys at one time, or another.I agree that the bench is a weak point on this team, but he has to use them until he is given someone better.And every one of them have made valuable contributions.And not all of these guys that have done well in AAA are ever going to make in the majors. And I honestly think that both Rizzo and Williams are doing a pretty good job.

      • Ghost of Steve M. - Aug 23, 2014 at 4:03 PM

        Well said, this isn’t a Matt Williams issue, this is a personnel issue and that’s Rizzo’s job to get him the upgrades. The Nats won 10 games in a row without a lefty bench specialist.

        Couldn’t this player be an upgrade over Hairston and Schieholtz?

        http://www.milb.com/player/index.jsp?sid=t552&player_id=489138#/splits/R/hitting/2014/MINORS

      • NatsLady - Aug 23, 2014 at 4:16 PM

        Apparently not, unless he learns to hit from the left side.

      • Section 222 - Aug 23, 2014 at 4:50 PM

        Ghost, that link didn’t work for me. Who are you talking about as an upgrade over Hairston and Schierholtz?

  4. langleyclub - Aug 23, 2014 at 4:38 PM

    How badly would Scheirholtz need to play to not get called up?

    Ridiculous that he could hit .190 (.090 since the A-S break) for the Cubs, go 3 for 19 in AAA, and then get called up.

    I get the lefty/righty thing, but Scheirholtz was worse angst RHP than LHP. The move sucks. Building a bench has been Rizzo’s biggest failure.

    Hate the way this organization continues to rely on cast offs failures to fill their bench (Matt Stairs, Dobbs, Hairston, and now Scheirholtz to fill bench spots when there are better alternatives within their own system (Souza – eligible Monday; Manny Burris)

    • Hiram Hover - Aug 23, 2014 at 4:45 PM

      Hate the way this organization continues to rely on cast offs failures to fill their bench

      Look around MLB, and you see such guys on most teams’ benches. The lucky teams are the ones where those guys get hot for a little while at the right time.

      As for our own minor leaguers–Nats management knows those guys inside and out. If they don’t trust them to come up and perform, or have other plans for them, I am willing to defer to their judgment.

      • Section 222 - Aug 23, 2014 at 4:48 PM

        +1. Manny Burris? Really?

  5. langleyclub - Aug 23, 2014 at 4:50 PM

    Then trade them; there is no way that you could look at Souza’s (Burris’s or Moore’s) season as compared to Scheirholtz and rationally conclude that Schierholtz would be a more productive option.

    • Hiram Hover - Aug 23, 2014 at 4:56 PM

      They did trade Walters, and they did call up Souza.

      As for T-Mo – his mastery of AAA pitching is impressive. His performance in the bigs has been pretty uneven. And for all we know, they have tried to trade him but couldn’t get a decent return. In any event–1B is something of a question mark for next year, so keeping him around in the minors is not such a bad thing.

    • therealjohnc - Aug 23, 2014 at 9:36 PM

      Oh, horse nostrils, certainly as far as Burris is concerned. Playing well (not even dominating) AAA at age 29 is no indicator of MLB ability. Especially for a guy whose career OPS at the MLB level is .573. Yes, .573. no, that’s not a misprint. Burris is not a major league player.

      As I pointed out in another thread, Schierholtz’s 2014 split against RH pitchers that Ghost keeps harping on is, indeed terrible. But it’s based on a BABIP of .213 (blech) – which is 70 points below his career BABIP against RH pitchers. And his batted ball profile does not account for the BABIP difference (for example, his LD% is actually up slightly this year, 20.7% versus a career average of 20.5%). So the Nats are hoping to take advantage of positive regression in his case, and there’s a decent chance that they do.

      The reason it’s Schierholtz and not Moore is that Moore is right handed, not left handed, is a bad baserunner and a terrible OF. Schierholtz is LH, a good baserunner and a good defender. Who now will have five weeks to prove to the Nats that he’s worth a postseason roster spot.

      • Section 222 - Aug 24, 2014 at 1:06 AM

        Well put. Rizzo knows exactly minor league success represents in each case. He’s been evaluating players his whole life, and not from his couch. If he thinks Schierholtz will help the team more than TyMo, I believe him.

  6. Soul Possession, Sec 3, My Sofa - Aug 23, 2014 at 4:55 PM

    Well, from what I hear, Schierholtz wasn’t hurt this year, though he did have some shoulder issues last season. He just didn’t hit.

    It’s just that this season has seemed so far off career norms, I have to suspect there’s something there. Without knowing what, it’s hard to assess the fix-ability of it. Maybe Rizzo & co. have some inside info, and something to hang a strong hope on. If so, it wouldn’t be the first time he’s kept such things to himself, but speculation isn’t proof of anything. I have no idea.

  7. langleyclub - Aug 23, 2014 at 4:55 PM

    222 – take a look at Burris’s numbers; particularly over the last two months and explain how Scheirholtz is more deserving.

    Look if Scheirholtz was merely playing poorly; you could make an argument; he has been A-W-F-U-L.

    • Section 222 - Aug 24, 2014 at 1:07 AM

      Meh. We need a left handed outfielder, not another switch hitting utiility infielder. Plus, as noted above, Burris has played in the majors and not succeeded. His minor league numbers this year don’t tell you much. Seems like an easy call to me.

  8. Soul Possession, Sec 3, My Sofa - Aug 23, 2014 at 5:02 PM

    Plus, Rizzo, unlike the rest of us here, doesn’t get the luxury of playing fantasy baseball. His decisions have long-term ramifications on everything else, including player development, and the budget, and other people’s lives and careers.

    They won’t all be good decisions in hindsight, and even some of the good ones won’t pan out. He doesn’t have a department store where he can go get a LHPH off the shelf, he has to make do with whoever is available.

    So, yeah, “throw a bunch of stuff against the wall, and hope something sticks” is pretty much a GM’s job description, for putting together a bench, because a lot of it won’t stick no matter what you throw. I trust he’ll use his best judgement to know what to throw, but that’s about all one can do.

  9. Drew - Aug 23, 2014 at 7:38 PM

    Tyler Moore still has value to the club — especially if LaRoche is gone and Ryan Zimmerman becomes the first baseman.

    When Zim gets hurt, as is so often the case, Moore can step in and do the job.

    Matt Skole is an intriguing prospect, but he hasn’t lit it up in AA. He’s hitting about .245 with 11 home runs. He’s not ready.

    Tyler is not a good pinch hitter and he’s not a good outfielder, but with regular at bats he could be a productive first baseman.

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