Nationals Arm Race

"… the reason you win or lose is darn near always the same – pitching.” — Earl Weaver

Kobernus release; odd timing?


Kobernus cut loose by the team yesterday.  Photo from 2012 via

Kobernus cut loose by the team yesterday. Photo from 2012 via

Word came out tonight that Jeff Kobernus, long time farm hand and former 2nd round pick out of UC Berkeley, who had hung on the fringes of the 25-man roster for a few years, was released.

He had already been reassigned to minor league camp/optioned to AAA, where he was always expected to start the 2015 season.  But now he’s been flat out released halfway through spring training.  From a team that can’t seem to keep its out-field players healthy.  Odd timing?

The Nats fielders are a set of walking wounded.  Werth‘s off-season surgery, Span‘s muscle injury that likely keeps him out til May.  Escobar‘s issue.  And now word comes out that Anthony Rendon‘s sore knee hasn’t improved and there’s “no timetable” for his return.  That’s two outfielders, a second baseman and a third baseman; all positions that Kobernus can and has played.  Why cut him now?

Perhaps it isn’t that odd, considering that the team views him as an OF, and he had fallen far down the pecking order of OFers in the organization.  Even given the injury crunch the team was facing, most reading the tea leaves are looking at Tony Gwynn Jr. making the 25-man roster to provide depth instead of existing 40-man OF options like Kobernus or Brian Goodwin (who hasn’t gotten a single spring training AB in a major league game, indication that he’s still hurt?).  Gwynn is hitting the cover off the ball so far in spring (for whatever that’s worth), and he hits from the left-hand side (unlike Kobernus).  So the Nats are going to need 40-man space … and at this point perhaps the options-constrained guys like Tyler Moore or even Xavier Cedeno may very well make the opening roster.  So Kobernus gets cut.

I think there’s room for Kobernus in another org; in fact he seems like the kind of player that Billy Beane and Kobernus’ home town Oakland A’s would take a shot at.  Hope he can continue his career somewhere.



Written by Todd Boss

March 18th, 2015 at 9:29 am

Posted in Nats in General

20 Responses to 'Kobernus release; odd timing?'

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  1. A bunch of the NRI guys impressing led to this. With injuries we may need to keep 3 NRIs and it became clear the team would rather go outside for that depth over Kobernus. I’m sure Kobernus asked for his release and Rizzo made the right move.

    Andrew R

    18 Mar 15 at 9:43 am

  2. I agree with Andrew R, I am guessing Kobernus asked for his release and Rizzo complied. I’d rather they traded him for some Low-A relief arm if feasible, but hopefully he catches on somewhere.

    I really wish his 2B skills had been better, being able to play OF and 2B would have gone a long way.


    18 Mar 15 at 10:51 am

  3. His release had to be a professional courtesy. I think that it was a classy move by Rizzo to give him a legit shot with another team after it was clear that he was way down on the DC depth chart.

    I think he can play. Hope he gets a shot somewhere.


    18 Mar 15 at 10:56 am

  4. Agree on the Rizzo gesture here. A very “NHL” thing to do, not to stand in the way of a guy who might get a decent look with a team without the lofty aspirations of the Nats in 2015.

    Todd Boss

    18 Mar 15 at 11:28 am

  5. Chelsea Janes reporting that it was doing Kobernus a solid:

    According to Williams, decision to release Kobernus was to allow him time to pursue options elsewhere, made out of "mutual respect."— Chelsea Janes (@chelsea_janes) March 18, 2015


    18 Mar 15 at 11:31 am

  6. However, I agree with Todd’s premise that the injuries clearly somewhat increase the risk of releasing him now rather than waiting till the end of ST … even if for no other reason than some of the presumed folks targeted for Syracuse could well end up in DC if injuries don’t start to heal.
    Makes the move even more classy.


    18 Mar 15 at 11:53 am

  7. Kobernus had his own injury issues. Notice that he was not exactly the SB machine of his cred. Without that, he’s that much more ordinary.

    He’ll get a shot somewhere. Makes one appreciate the return they got for Lombo so much more.

    Hard not to see a lefty reliever being shipped out for prospect depth. And of course, there are an increasing number of teams who want to add top starting pitching. I think Rizzo is playing a game of chicken with them. He knows who he wants and lets just see how it develops.

    No doubt the organizational depth is validated so far. Cole shipped out, treinen still around but so are others. Hope we get to see more of Rafael Martin.


    18 Mar 15 at 12:45 pm

  8. If Eury Perez can find a major-league job, so can Kobe.

    Early releases of some of the nonroster pitchers may soon follow, particularly for the starters, unless there is a slot or two to fill at Syracuse. Those guys came to camp for the showcase opportunity anyway.

    Among the hitters, Uggla would be a release candidate by now were Escobar healthy, but he isn’t, and Difo’s continued presence shows how thin the Nats are in the middle infield. The main LH bat guys seem pretty close thus far, at least batting-stats-wise, plus the OF injuries leave open the chances there as well.

    As for Gwynn, he’s got too long of a track record of bad hitting to expect anything else in the regular season. Seems like a good guy, good for him for having a strong spring, but don’t bank on him being more than a defensive replacement.

    With Goodwin, I did see a report somewhere this week that he is indeed still injured. Talk about missing a golden opportunity. I suspect the Nats will remain in need of viable OF reserves for sometime to come, though.


    18 Mar 15 at 12:56 pm

  9. I don’t think there are any non-roster starting pitchers in camp, but I agree with your point for relievers. Heath Bell, Evan Meek, Manny Delcarmen, and Rich Hill have all shown flashes, but would seem to have no chance of making the roster. I would guess that if they get any outside interest the Nats would give them an early release.


    19 Mar 15 at 8:04 am

  10. Wish him well.
    His hitting was so bad this spring it was the same as Espinosa’s.
    I don’t feel as bad about the guys who got a large bonus and then washout as opposed to the players who leave the game paupers.

    Mark L

    19 Mar 15 at 8:45 am

  11. He absolutely did not ask for his release!!!

    Wrestler Pat

    21 Mar 15 at 12:07 pm

  12. Good luck with “EINSTEIN” running the ballclub
    Williams is lying through his teeth,so is Rizzo

    Wrestler Pat

    21 Mar 15 at 12:14 pm

  13. Heh. We should all be as good at our jobs as Rizzo is at his.

    John C.

    21 Mar 15 at 1:21 pm

  14. I’m with you, John C.
    Truth or not, it was a good move to make.

    Mark L

    21 Mar 15 at 4:50 pm

  15. Hey “Wrestler Pat.” Did you know the Nats have the best combined record in the majors the last three years? I’d say that “einstein” Mike Rizzo is doing a pretty good job as the GM right now.

    Todd Boss

    23 Mar 15 at 10:20 am

  16. There you go, Todd, letting facts get in the way again.

    Mark L

    23 Mar 15 at 1:15 pm

  17. Scherzer gets the Opening Day nod. I think it is meaningless from a baseball production standpoint, but has symbolic value. I am going to engage in unfounded speculation, and say that (i) JZ was never in the running, because why make a symbolic gesture to someone who is leaving (and those staying will feel snubbed), and (ii) the Nats now believe that they have no chance to re-sign Stras. I think they held off naming Scherzer to not make Stras feel slighted, and would have given it to him had they felt positively about it. But my take is that they don’t, so they will shift focus to Miracle Max as their leader, now.


    23 Mar 15 at 1:41 pm

  18. I think naming Scherzer as opening day starter probably was the nod to give it to the most accomplished pitcher on the staff. Scherzer has a Cy Young; nobody else does. Even when he was in Detroit, he wasn’t as accomplished as Verlander (who has a cy and a mvp).

    Todd Boss

    23 Mar 15 at 2:42 pm

  19. So here we are with spring training well underway and a lot of interesting takeaways:

    1) PLAYER ACQUISITION. The Nats did an excellent job creating competition for perceived weak spots at the ML level. From far (Clint Robinson) to wide (Kila K) to past (Ian Stewart) to faded (Carp) to scrap heap (Uggla and Gwynn), the team found six performers for a championship team that have all punched their ticket to closer looks. Excellent job of thinking bargain when they can, maturing beyond the “let’s throw 10.5 at McLouth” and waiting for a Frandsen type to get pushed out before opening day.

    2) FREE AGENTS TO BE. The competition has, surprisingly, totally marginalized the discussion about all of the free agency eligible players. What a distraction that could have been. As of now, silence.

    3) EMERGENCE. As is the case every year, we’ve seen the emergence of players who now look closer to being ready than we expected. Taylor is the most obvious of these. But Matt Skole has reignited interest in his prospects as well.

    4) RE-EMERGENCE. Welcome back, Tyler Moore. Welcome back, Taylor Jordan.

    5) DEPTH. We knew the organization had depth, but those stepping up in the face of injuries have demonstrated that there is plenty to offer in the pipeline. Difo down to A+, and Solis and Rivero to AA.

    6) PRELUDE. We’ve started to see Scherzer and his impact on the team. Zimmerman is settling in to 1B, Espinosa into the right side of the plate. Escobar is finally back, and Werth any day.

    The next thread may be the moves coming far bigger than Kobernus as rosters get trimmed, which like sunny skies, means we’re closer than ever to spring.


    23 Mar 15 at 3:20 pm

  20. Todd – If that’s how they were thinking, I think they would have announced it early. Stras can be touchy (at least it seems that way) and I think they would have been concerned about pissing him off, but don’t see that as a concern any more. Anyway, that’s my totally-unprovable theory.

    Foren – I don’t agree with some of what you are saying, although I am very happy to see Taylor Jordan looking healthy and effective. I’d guess that his spring makes Treinen a bullpen guy this year (Roark, Cole, Taylor as SP depth).

    I think that they could/should have added a better outfield depth option, since they knew that with McLouth and Werth rehabbing, they were very thin and now with Span out, it looks like a potential problem area. Maybe Taylor can make that leap, but given his contact issues, it seems unwise from both his and the team’s perspective to count on him making the jump right now, in the middle of a win-it-all season. And we shouldn’t think Gwynn has suddenly figured out how to hit.

    It may work, but it isn’t high probability. Gwynn may have a flukey 6 weeks, and then the other guys get healthy, or Taylor hits enough not to have his development interrupted, but it isn’t the way that I’d hoped to be going into the season. I give Rizzo credit for seeing the need for McLouth, but it just hasn’t worked out. That happens, but at some point you need to recognize that we still need to fill the hole that he was supposed to cover, and go get someone. I have said earlier that a Refsnyder/Grichuck type would look pretty good right now. I’d offer up Cole for something like that.


    23 Mar 15 at 3:57 pm

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