Nationals Arm Race

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

If Bixler gets added, who makes way?


Is Brian Bixler the savior of the Nats offense? We'll see. Photo: Al Bello/Getty Images North America via

Most of the Nats beat reporters are posting that Jesus Flores is getting sent back down to AAA and that infielder Brian Bixler is getting the call-up.  Flores just hasn’t been getting at bats (2 pinch hitting appearances in 10 days) and he needs to get playing time if we’re going to parlay him into anything of value on the trade market.

Meanwhile, we know that Ian Desmond is imminently going on paternity leave and we’ll need a middle infielder to cover for him (since we’re already using one of our backup infielders Jerry Hairston Jr on a full time basis covering for the injured Ryan Zimmerman).

Bixler has merited a look, having played well in Spring Training and having hit pretty well down in Syracuase thus far (.326/.483/.370 in 46 plate appearances).  Maybe he’ll even feature at lead-off for a bit with such a great OBP.

Here’s the problem: Bixler’s not on our 40-man roster.  He’ll need to be added, and someone will need to be dropped off.  We’ve already dumped all three guys that we could onto the 60-day roster (Strasburg, Elvin Ramirez and Wang) and none of the 15-day DL guys would make sense.  So it looks like someone’s getting the axe.  Here’s your top candidates and my guess

  1. Atahualpa Severino: He lost out on the Loogy role in the spring, and then presumably lost out on the loogy role in AAA as well.  He’s currently on the minor league “DL” but nobody heard of any injury to the guy towards the end of spring training.  We brought in Hyde and have converted Chico to situational lefties in Syracuse, making Severino pretty obsolete.  I’m guessing he’s the most expendible.
  2. Lee Hyde: see my commentary in my latest minor league pitching review for why Hyde may be on the chopping block.  He was a late spring waiver acquisition from Atlanta and has been awful in Syracuse thus far.  His saving grace is that he’s a lefty.
  3. Garrett Mock: his latest outing in Syracuse gives him 17 walks in 11 1/3 AAA innings in 2011.  He may get a stay of execution this time around, but I have to think his days are numbered on the 40-man.
  4. Chad Gaudin: so far he’s been the least effective pitcher in our bullpen (further commented upon in my latest good/bad/indifferent post).  He may be safe for now, but may be released when both Coffey and Rodriguez are healthy and need 25-man spots at the same time.

Prediction: Severino makes way, passes through waivers and stays in extended spring training.  Unless there’s some rule about dropping a guy on your DL; if so I’d guess they would re-instate him briefly to AAA then DFA him or outright release him.

4/23/11 Update: The Nationals announced they have designated Lee Hyde for assignment, ending his Nationals tenure after just a few weeks.

Side note on the Paternity policy as it relates to the 40-man machinations: I believe the paternity leave allows a team to place a player on a temporary restricted list, which temporarily removes him from the 40-man roster.  I am having a hard time finding the actual text of the new policy; all I can find is that it is good for 24-72 hours and allows a team to replace the player on the active roster.  I would have to think that the replacement player would already have to be on the 40-man roster, so we’d still need to make a corresponding 40-man move.

Written by Todd Boss

April 22nd, 2011 at 11:24 am

Posted in Nats in General

4 Responses to 'If Bixler gets added, who makes way?'

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  1. Pretty logical … I thought they would cut Severino in ST for some of the new acquisitions and … newly added to the DFA soon list: Gaudin, Coffey, Stairs, Cora, and Hairston …

    But Mock looks worst than ever … and he has been given way too many chances in AAA … I could see demoting him to AA Harrisburg and bringing up Bradley Meyers. Let him work with Lannan’s favorite pitching coach Tomlin … if they still had any hope for the guy … but I just think they are tired of it … and will figure he needs a change of scenery.


    22 Apr 11 at 12:18 pm

  2. I dunno. This team keeps giving Mock more and more chances. I can’t see them dumping him now. Besides, what are they going to learn about Mock in AA that he isn’t already showing them in AAA? If anything, the hitters in AA are going to be better. Better, rising prospects as opposed to the “spare parts” collection of 3rd catchers, spare outfielders and middle infielders that comprise a lot of AAA rosters.

    My guess on Mock is they dump him from the rotation and put JD Martin in the rotation full time to start. Put mock into long-relief/mop up roles to let him try to work things out.

    Meyers definitely is the first guy called up (here’s a stat: 17ks and 0 BBs in 14 2/3 innings for him so far) but I think it may be a few more weeks. In all fairness, 3 starts is really a small sample size for a minor leaguer.

    Todd Boss

    22 Apr 11 at 12:48 pm

  3. Meyers definitely is the first guy called up (here’s a stat: 17ks and 0 BBs in 14 2/3 innings for him so far) but I think it may be a few more weeks. In all fairness, 3 starts is really a small sample size for a minor leaguer.

    Meyer’s stock as an “older” prospect is surely rising. He really should be in the AAA rotation awaiting a call-up. He ought to be on the 40-man roster as should Tom Milone. With Milone, Meyers and Detwiler they could potentially make some pretty good deals before the trading deadline with Marquis, Lannan and Livo.

    I’m not sure why the beat writers et al love Lannan but check out his WHIP compared to Gorzelanny. Gorzelanny is probably their most effective starter they have after Livan Hernandez and “the new improved” Jason Marquis.


    22 Apr 11 at 3:55 pm

  4. Meyers was 2010 R5 eligible, but his injury made him risky enough that nobody would take him. I’m sure he’ll be added to the 40-man in November. I doubt he’d be added any time before that. Milone becomes r5 eligible this coming november and will definitely be protected. No reason to add these guys before then … or unless we need them.

    Detwiler still has not shown much at the MLB level. I’m not sure what his trade value is right now. What the Nats really need to do is to get him pitching in the majors to showcase him and decide if he’s a keeper or trade bait.

    Both Lannan and Gorzelanny are “small sample size” analysis victims right now. Lannan’s whip may look bad, but his era+, fip and xfip aren’t too bad. In fact, Lannan, Zimmermann and Livan’s xFip values are all almost identical right now (all 3 in the 4.29 – 4.38 range). Lannan has been getting unlucky so far with a babip of .324. Remember; Lannan’s value is being an extreme ground ball pitcher; one of the 4-5 best of his kind in the majors.

    Meanwhile, Gorzelanny’s advanced stats don’t look good at all. His fip is 5.98; which is easily the worst on the team. His xFip is better (4.89), but he’s been getting extremely lucky on babip (.207). Which means we’ll expect more hit balls to land in play and expect his already bloated ERA to rise even further. He may be getting lots of Ks, but he’s also walking way too many people (8 in 16 innings). And, as expected he still throws way too many pitches; 108 to get through 5 innings last outing. I know you think he’s going to be good, but right now he’s not. I saw some reporters that thought his last outing was “great” because he only gave up 2 hits … 2 hits and 4 walks in 5 innings and 108 pitches isn’t really a success to me.

    Todd Boss

    22 Apr 11 at 4:09 pm

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