Nationals Arm Race

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

Ladson’s Inbox 1/14/13


Free Michael Morse! Photo Jacqueline Martin/AP via

Another edition of Bill Ladson‘s Nats inbox, dated 1/14/13.

Q: Who will replace Davey Johnson once he retires after the 2013 season?

A: Who knows and who cares?  Can we wait until the end of the 2013 season to see if Davey Johnson actually retires?  I’m not convinced that he actually will retire if the Nats don’t win the World Series.  Even if he does retire, I think its pointless to speculate who in the baseball universe the team could possibly look to as a successor.  It could be a current TV pundit, a bench coach, someone elses manager, someone who just got fired, a minor league manager in our system, one of our current coaches, Mike Rizzo‘s uncle.  About the only person I think it will NOT be is Jim Riggleman.  Ladson says internal candidates Randy Knorr and Trent Jewett are good candidates, and throws out Joe Girardi‘s name based on his contract status coinciding with the end of next season.

Q: Is there any validity to the Nationals having interest in Javier Vazquez? If the Nats were to sign him, would they move Ross Detwiler to the bullpen so he could be their second lefty?

A: This topic as so irked me that I’m penning an entire post dedicated to it.  Check back later.

Q: If Michael Morse is only making $6.7 million, why not keep him around as insurance and a right-handed bat off the bench?

A: An excellent question.  Much like the team paid John Lannan to sit around in Syracuse for a year, they could do the same with Michael Morse.  Except that Morse is FAR more valuable in trade than in sitting around and wondering what he’s done to earn his fate.  He’s by all accounts a great clubhouse guy, but keeping him here would be detrimental to everyone involved.  I think the team needs to move him for lefty bullpen help and some farm system starting pitching depth.  Ladson says the team needs to do Morse a favor and trade him.

Q: Who do you see as the Opening Day closer — Tyler Clippard or Drew Storen?

A: Drew Storen.  Tyler Clippard had his shot at the title and lost it down the 2012 stretch.  I think the team goes back to its winning formula with Clip-Store-and Save in 2013.  Ladson thinks Johnson will go with “the hot hand” and split the role.  I don’t.  I think he’ll go right back to what he was doing before.

Q: With Adam LaRoche now signed, what are the Nats’ long-term plans for Tyler Moore?

A: Once Morse is traded, Moore becomes the big bat off the bench and does some fill-in work at 1st base and (maybe) LF.   I see his opportunities limited though unless we see some injuries.  Longer term, I think he’ll have to hit his way into full time playing time; if he does perhaps he’s the first baseman of the future.  I don’t see it though; I think he’s likely to find his way off the team through trade at some point.  The OF is full and 1B is blocked.  Ladson agrees, mentioning an interesting wrinkle; with Bo Porter now in Houston, perhaps a trade would be in order.

Q: Which Minor League player do you think will have a breakout season this year?

A: A good question.  Borrowing from Luke Erickson‘s NationalsProspects watchlist for 2013 (a very handy one-page summary of all the top/interesting prospects throughout the Nats farm system), I’ll pick three names that could press for quick promotion and big impact in 2013: Rendon, Skole and Goodwin.  Ok that’s a cop out.  I will say this: I *hope* that Rendon breaks out and finally hits like his draft pedigree.  Lets keep an eye this year on Nathan Karns and Erik Davis, two rising arms that could both feature in the bullpen in 2013.  I’d like to see Robbie Ray rebound.  For a deep-cut, i’m really interested to see what Kevin DiCharry does in 2013.   Ladson goes with the two obvious candidates Rendon and Goodwin.  I don’t think he follows the farm system that closely, so we’ll give him a pass.

Q: Is Ryan Zimmerman expected to be healthy for Spring Training?

A: I saw nothing in his surgery detail that indicated that the 2013 season was in jeopardy in any way.  Ladson confirms.

Q: If Jayson Werth bats in the middle of the order, what right-handed hitter is the best choice for No. 2 after Denard Span?

A: I’d probably say Jayson Werth is still the best option at #2.  The lineup that seems to make the most sense goes Span-Werth-Harper-Zimmerman-LaRoche-Desmond-Espinosa-Suzuki.  That allows the team to go L-R-L-R-L-R-S-R, a perfect balance.  Perhaps you switch Desmond and Werth.  Ladson thinks Harper is batting second most of the time.  Can’t see that; can’t see Johnson purposely going lefty with 3 of the first four guys in his rotation.  That seems to scream out easy Loogy matchups every night.

Q: Will Christian Garcia do any starting for the Nats next season? I know Johnson would love to see that.

A: A man can wish; I’d love to see Christian Garcia starting and bringing his stuff for 7 innings a night.  Unfortunately I don’t think he’s got the stamina in that arm (surgically repaired more than once) to start, no matter how much Johnson may want him as starter depth.  I think Garcia starts the year in AAA starting but soon finds himself back in the MLB bullpen.   Ladson says he’s getting stretched out and will provide cover for any injuries.

16 Responses to 'Ladson’s Inbox 1/14/13'

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  1. So, suppose Garcia can pitch like a league-average #5 starter – that’s still not good enough to crack the Nats’ rotation. Does he bring more value by at least piching 3 innings per week in DC? I’d think so. I mean, him, HRod (if he’s throwing strikes), Mattheus, Stammen, Clippard, Storen. Yikes.

    kevin r

    15 Jan 13 at 10:38 am

  2. Sadly, whenever I find Ladsen agreeing with my viewpoint on anything concerning the Nationals I tend to immediately re-evaluate my original position. For a beat writer he doesn’t go very deep (I concur that he doesn’t seem to follow the minors much at all), and I’ve rarely if ever seen any sign that he has connections with the team.

    I seem to recall that he had some health issues some months back, and I’m glad that he seems to have gotten past that. But he’s certainly not the first source that I go to for Nats news – more like the 5th source. Suffice it to say that I look forward more to reading your take on his inbox than I do to reading his.

    John C.

    15 Jan 13 at 10:48 am

  3. Agreed. Here’s what I think happens with Garcia and the bullpen this year: We enter the season with these 7 guys in the pen: Clippard, Storen, Mattheus, Stammen, HRod, Duke and Bray. Garcia stays in AAA and gets some starts. HRod breaks down again and the team decides to cut bait on him, and they call back up Garcia. Garcia replaces HRod’s 7th inning role and the bullpen is stronger for it.

    Meanwhile, the team enters the reg season with its 5 starters in tact and having signed a couple of last minute veterans to MLFA contracts (kinda like what we did with Duke last year), and they head to AAA. Who is the first guy called in case of a starter injury? I still don’t know. Could be Duke. Could be Perry. Could be someone else.

    Todd Boss

    15 Jan 13 at 11:35 am

  4. Ladson is definitely back; his volume of publications have risen dramatically. He didn’t do mailbag responses for months.

    I wonder about Ladson sometimes; when you read his stuff, does he actually have player quotes? Does he even go into the clubhouse?

    Oh, btw went to the DCMSBL managers meeting and ran into Jack Holmes. He says hi. They inducted him into the DCMSBL hall of fame this year for his years of playing and service. I had forgotten that we pulled him onto our team briefly a few years back and he played with us. I’ve decided to cut n paste and create a whole post on amateur baseball in the DC area since its time for teams to start forming. Maybe there’s players out there who still want to play and don’t know of leagues or teams available.

    Todd Boss

    15 Jan 13 at 11:38 am

  5. Really? Ladson doesn’t follow the minors very closely? What else does he have to DO exactly? He’s a beat writer for the Nationals, period. He should know every aspect of and personality in the organization right down to the third base coach in the GCL.

    And don’t get me started about him thinking lefty Harper will follow lefty Span at the top of the order. The man gets paid to cover the Nationals full time, and yet most of the Nationals bloggers have better insight on the team than he ever does. It makes no sense.


    15 Jan 13 at 11:47 am

  6. I saw a picture of Jack’s ring – very snazzy! A post on amateur baseball in DC would be great. There are at least three leagues I know about (DCMSBL/DCMABL; NABA; Ponce), and that’s not counting the industrial leagues. And I nearly forgot the EWBC, so I guess that’s four.

    John C.

    15 Jan 13 at 1:30 pm

  7. Agreed. I think we’re all at the point where we realize that he’s not the most insightful beat reporter out there. Should we do a “Beat Reporter” review on the blog? 🙂 I know of Kilgore/Wagner (WP), Zuckerman (Comcast), Comak (WT), Ladson (, Kerzel/Kerr/Whitherite/Kolko? (MASN), and Brian McNally (Washington Examiner). Can you think of any other official beat writers?

    Todd Boss

    15 Jan 13 at 1:42 pm

  8. I’ve got those three (though apparently the DC Woodbat league has split away from NABA) plus Industrial and then I threw in the Cal Ripken league. I also mentioned Chesapeake MSBL and the old Chicken leagues in southern maryland (which may or may not still be active; google is not entirely sure). EWBC: I’ll put that in there as well.

    Todd Boss

    15 Jan 13 at 1:48 pm

  9. I enjoyed your answer to the Vasquez question.

    I like Comak, Zuckerman and Kilgore, I think that they are pretty good. They must be buds, though, because they all write the same thing within minutes of each other.

    Kind of stunned over this whole Soriano thing. I didn’t see that coming. Let the Boras conspiracy rumors fly!


    15 Jan 13 at 2:26 pm

  10. Gotta chuckle: Heyman says that the 3rd year vests if he finishes 12 games over the first two years, Kilgore says 120. Six in one hand, 1/2 dozen in the other?


    15 Jan 13 at 2:31 pm

  11. Wow, me too. I had to go refresh RSS Feed to see what you guys were talking about.

    I guess I know what i’m writing about tonight.

    Todd Boss

    15 Jan 13 at 3:05 pm

  12. Well that Soriano signing may be what allows Garcia to transition to a starter in the minors next season. With the team only signing Haren on a 1 year deal Garcia could be being groomed for 2014.

    I agree though it may be hard for him to take the workload with the surgeries he has had in his career.


    15 Jan 13 at 3:13 pm

  13. New-posting.

    Agree on Garcia … unless someone gets moved there’s now definitely too many arms signed. The team may want him to start but you have to think eventually he’s back in the bullpen.

    Best case for me now seems to be moving Clippard/Storen and Morse with an idea of getting back starter prospects. Even if they’re in AA. Look to sign a Zach Duke veteran FA on the day before the season starts to try to find gold.

    Todd Boss

    15 Jan 13 at 3:42 pm

  14. I completely agree on the beat reporters all writing the same damn things. Its the worst during spring training, when we’re all just so thirsty for news, some news, any news, and then the same stories all appear with the same quotes from those guys all clearly going to the same news conferences.

    Todd Boss

    15 Jan 13 at 3:44 pm

  15. I think they kind of did the veteran FA idea already with Ohlendorf. He may not be the same level of John Lannan but he is good AAA depth. I think with Maya, Perry, Garcia (if they really stretch him out), Ohlendorf and West the AAA rotation is set barring an injury. I like the idea of trading Morse/releiver for a AA starter or two.


    15 Jan 13 at 4:38 pm

  16. Totally agree; i had kind of forgotten already about that signing. But he’s exactly like a Duke signing from last year.

    Todd Boss

    15 Jan 13 at 9:46 pm

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