Nationals Arm Race

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

Detwiler to bullpen… the first shoe to drop this spring


If he's out, who's in?  Photo Haraz Ghanbari/AP via

If he’s out, who’s in? Photo Haraz Ghanbari/AP via

So, big news out of camp today is Matt Williams announced decision to “start the season” with Ross Detwiler in the bullpen.   Adam Kilgore broke the news earlier today and now it’s been picked up by some of the bigger sites and other Nats beat reporters.

I’m on record with having predicted Detwiler for the 5th starter, dating back to my (too-early) December 2013 post predicting the rotations across the system.  I stand by my arguments made at the time, but cannot argue with decisions made by those who watch these guys day-in and day-out.  Detwiler’s stats this spring leave something to be desired (insert standard anti-Spring training stats/short sample size arguments here), and we all know that a) the team needs another lefty reliever, b) Detwiler’s reliever stats are excellent,  and c) the Bullpen was pretty bad last year and needed improving anyway.

Detwiler in the bullpen definitely improves the group as a whole, and opens up a spot for someone unexpected to start the season in the rotation.

So, now what are we predicting?  Something like this?

  • Rotation: Strasburg, Gio, Zimm, Fister and Jordan
  • Bullpen: Soraino, Clippard, Storen, Stammen, Blevins (L), Detwiler (L) and Roark
  • D/L: Ohlendorf (back), Mattheus (chest), Davis (elbow)

Or are we thinking that Roark may pip Jordan for the 5th spot, which would give perhaps a guy like Aaron Barrett (whose Spring stats are stellar) or maybe even fan favorite Christian Garcia the 7th spot in the pen for the time being while Jordan heads to AAA?  Or, is Fister starting the year on the D/L as well, meaning both Jordan and Roark may be pressed into action?  Or, if Fister does hit the D/L is Detwiler getting pulled back into the fray as a starter again?  Or do we throw a NRI a bone and keep someone like Michael Gonzalez and/or Luis Ayala?  (doubtful on these last two guys: Gonzalez has yet to pitch in a game and Ayala’s gotten shelled).

If it were me, I”d go with Roark in the rotation until he falters (if he falters), stick Jordan in AAA to continue getting starts on a regular basis, keep Detwiler as 2nd lefty/long man and give a hard-throwing righty like Garcia a shot to show us what he’s got at the MLB level.

Thoughts?  First controversial move by our manager; I wonder how the players are taking it.

Written by Todd Boss

March 17th, 2014 at 4:21 pm

43 Responses to 'Detwiler to bullpen… the first shoe to drop this spring'

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  1. I have wanted Det in the bullpen the whole time. I think what is being said about the move is the truth: he has talent but significant questions as a starter. He could be dominant in the pen, at a spot of need. And we have options for the 5th SP that have potential. Maybe Det projects slightly higher for 2014 performance than Roark or Jordan, but it is very close. And then when you plug in Det instead of Cedeno for 70 IPs in the pen, it probably maximizes value for the Nats.

    Good move by Williams or Rizzo. I’d like to see Jordan get the last rotation spot, Garcia in the pen and Roark in Syracuse staying stretched out as an SP, with Young and Solis.

    I am ready for the season to start, and the snow to go away.


    17 Mar 14 at 6:16 pm

  2. Almost intimidated to comment with some of the excellent stuff I have read here.

    I have seen lots of numbers on how dominating Det is, the first time through the order and how that falls pretty drastically. I am guessing most starters tail off but I think his numbers were even more worrisome.
    This obviously fills a role that no one else in the organization could handle. He can go more than one inning with ease and also can come in to face just one batter if needed. He also is a power pitcher and I like that aspect in the pen.

    I think Gonzalez threw yesterday in the split squad and allowed two stolen bases and took the loss.

    My choice for that #7 spot is Ayala but if Garcia is lights out in AAA, I bring him back at the first sign of Luis faltering. I also think both Barrett and Mattheus will pitch at the major league level this year

    The #5 starter for me is Roark. I just can’t ignore the great numbers he put up all season. I start Jordan in AAA pitching every 5th day and I also hope that Young will take a minor league assignment because he actually has been as good as the two youngsters this spring (I know, I know, spring training #s)

    My question is – what if Fister is not ready? Do you keep both youngsters up? I certainly would not yoyo Detwiler back into the starting situation, especially if he is now going to be throwing just one inning at a time.

    Go Nats!!

    SJM 308

    17 Mar 14 at 6:44 pm

  3. I agree with everything written here, it makes sense on a lot of levels.
    Jordan’s broken foot over the winter has held him back a little and it wouldn’t hurt to have him to get a month or two in Syracuse before coming up for good.

    Mark L

    17 Mar 14 at 7:02 pm

  4. SJM – I think you have nailed the risk exactly- what if Fister can’t go? Seems like they waited to see how bad it was before making the announcement, and at least they feel pretty good about it. But if it flares up, or one of the other guys goes down? I’d guess that they start off with the kids (Plan A), have Young ready in case one of them falters (Plan B), see how Solis is doing and start thinking about stretching Ross back out to starter (Plans C and D). If they get to C and D, we probably have to throw in a potential trade, too. But I have to say, while scary, those are pretty good options to have. Certainly beats the days of signing Odalis Perez right about now and having him be the Opening Day starter.

    I think most people agree with you about Roark. Todd is there too. I just like Jordan, for some reason. He reminds me of Jordan Zimm when he first came up. Different style, but same kind of quiet, no nonsense kid with pretty good stuff. I’ll say this, though: I love that neither of them walks anyone. Those high walk guys drive me crazy, which is one reason why i didn’t mind the Karns trade.

    Go Nats, let’s get the season started.


    17 Mar 14 at 7:45 pm

  5. If Fister can’t go, presumably it is Roark AND Jordan in the rotation. If not, it’s still a pretty open competition. Jordan had a bad outing on Friday. I’m a little surprised to see Young mentioned as still being in the mix as well. I’m not buying that one. Right now, I’d be with Todd in favoring Roark, although Jordan may ultimately have more upside. I wonder if the mentions of Young mean that he could be the long man if Roark wins the rotation spot. Everyone seems to think that if that’s the case, Jordan would stay stretched out in AAA. And Det has more value at the back end of the ‘pen than the front.

    Like others, I’ve gone back and forth on where Det should be. He’s got the best stuff of everyone else in the competition, but, as noted, he relies heavily on his fastball and tends to get figured out on multiple trips through the order.

    Here’s the thing with him in the ‘pen, though – use him like the stud he is. In his previous times out there, he’s just been a wandering long man. He’s very capable of 8th/9th inning work, certainly of being the 7th/8th inning Sean Burnett guy. No one is going to want to face a fresh Detwiler at the end of a game.

    And not a moment of silence, but a rousing chorus of “Stars and Stripes Forever” as my guy Souza heads to the MiLB camp in a blaze of glory, with 2 HRs and a triple. He’ll be back.


    17 Mar 14 at 8:07 pm

  6. Plus if they keep Young, they can move Fister to power forward and Blevins to small forward. Gio, as he has already acknowledged, is the point guard.


    17 Mar 14 at 8:15 pm

  7. Another thought is that the Detwiler decision is actually good news about Fister. I don’t know that they would have taken Det out of the starting mix if they didn’t think Fister would be ready for the regular season.


    18 Mar 14 at 5:16 am

  8. I’ll vote with SJM on this one:
    1. I think you have to give Roark the chance to see if he can repeat his success last year (assuming he looks solid for the remainder of ST)
    2. They will want to keep TJ (or Roark, if he doesn’t get the 5th starter slot) stretched out on a starter’s schedule in Syracuse.
    3. Right now Ayala looks most likely to me for the 7th bullpen slot. Some of his bad numbers so far were because of MW trying out the 5 infielders, and he looked really strong at the end of last year. Garcia looks to need some time to shake the rust off, and Barrett looks great but is young and I think they will go with Ayala’s experience (although if I’m right, will be interesting to see how they clear the roster spot).


    18 Mar 14 at 7:47 am

  9. Good question by Todd at the end … first potentially controversial call by MW … if Ross is upset by this move does that hurt team chemistry and respect for the manager (“wasn’t fair … they asked him to try new pitches and then never gave him a chance to get them worked out …”), or does he get more respect for making the hard decisions to help the team? If this goes well, it should help him a lot in the long run with some of the future tough decisions, but there is some risk.


    18 Mar 14 at 7:56 am

  10. That is an excellent point DaveB (& todd) and I had not thought about it from the managers point. We are all pretty sure Det is not happy right now. Williams acknowledged that when he made the move. So far, Williams has said very little that could be considered controversial and as a matter of fact, he has really just toed the company line “looks good” right on pace” etc etc. Like Davey or not, he would often throw something out there you didn’t expect.

    We have no clue what is going on behind closed doors but Williams presentations to the media are boring to say the least. Not upset about that, just a comment.

    SJM 308

    18 Mar 14 at 8:49 am

  11. As much as I’ve argued for Detwiler to stay as a starter …. you also cannot argue with the stats. Looking at his career splits, you see the following pertinent information:
    – 1st time through a lineup: opponents batting .225/.283/.348.
    – 2nd time through: .300/.364/.423
    – 3rd time through: .324/.372/.501. This equates to an .873 OPS, which would have ranked 18th in all of baseball last year and is about what Matt Holliday hit for 2013.

    One other interesting career stat from that same link: from the 51st pitch onwards, Detwiler’s opponents have somewhere around a .307/.365/.466 line … again, above an .800 OPS figure. From the 51st pitch onwards. Detwiler has faced exactly 5 batters in his career at or above the 100 pitch level.

    I noted last season the “handling with kid gloves” of Detwiler by Johnson, even going back to 2012. Why was he never allowed to get past 100 pitches? Was it because they knew internally how fragile he was, or was it a knowledge of how hittable he became once he got through 4-5 innings?

    Nonetheless … it becomes relatively easy to make an argument that he belongs in the bullpen. Hate to see a 1st rounder become a middle reliever … (if you want to have a bit of a “hindsight is 20/20” feeling, go check out the first round of the 2007 draft and see some of the names picked after we got Detwiler … i’m not going to kill the Nats for this pick in general, because the literature at the time supported Detwiler’s upper 1st round pedigree … but oh man, imagine if they’d gone for one of the bigger names just a few picks afterwards…ugh).

    Todd Boss

    18 Mar 14 at 8:52 am

  12. Excellent observation from KW about Fister’s injury; i completely agree that the team would never have made this announcement if they thought Fister was at risk not to start the season.

    That being said … if Fister can’t go, do you really keep Detwiler in the pen and go with Roark/Jordan as 4/5? (btw, I laugh at people who continue to include Chris Young in the mix here … uh guys, the last time Young pitched a full season and was effective was 2007. He had nearly a 9 ERA in AAA last year and throws the ball roughly at the same velocity as some of the amateurs in my adult league. He’s an AAA innings eater hanging on to his career and an extreme insurance policy, nothing more).

    Todd Boss

    18 Mar 14 at 8:56 am

  13. Williams and team chemistry: I noted in a past post that I thought Williams’ playing pedigree was going to make him basically unassailable from criticism from his players (veteran or otherwise), at least initially. I can’t imagine there being any issues with this move. It isn’t as if Detwiler has much to say in terms of his own career pedigree to support keeping a rotation job; he’s entering his 8th professional season and his high IP for a season was 2012’s 164.1 innings. He threw around 150 innings combined in two other seasons but otherwise his career is a series of seasons kind of like 2013; he threw 75 innings, got hurt, missed the rest of the season.

    IF you can’t be counted on to eat innings unconditionally even if you’re medicore (think Mark Buehrle), and you can’t be counted on to stay healthy long enough to be helpful (as Detwiler didn’t prove last year … they were just 5-8 in his 13 starts), then it makes sense to head to the pen.

    Todd Boss

    18 Mar 14 at 9:36 am

  14. A little late to the party, but I wanted to chime in from another angle. I’m glad Williams made this move because obviously (and I’m saying this in relation to your point about the coaches watching the players every day) it had to be made.

    It reminds me a little of 2012 when the hard decision was made to start Detwiler and send Lannan to AAA, which sort of set the tone for the whole season. Totally unlike last year when the team seemed reluctant to make major changes even when it was painfully obvious to even us amateur observers that they needed to be made.


    18 Mar 14 at 12:02 pm

  15. I cannot see Chris Young as the fifth starter. Seriously? The discussion of him in that regard is only to 1) Prompt competitive urgency 2) Encourage Young to stay with the organization in AAA after he gets demoted to Syracuse, suggesting they think he is ML material 3) In line with some unpublicized promise that he would be “given every opportunity” to win the #5 job (like Espinosa).

    With that said, the remaining position battles are obviously at backup 1B (Hairston/Moore/Peterson) (or 1B/OF, depending on the person), backup infield (Kobernus/Carroll). Kobernus has a chance if Peterson makes the team, because he canm back up in the OF. And, he has the best speed credentials of anyone remaining.

    I still think Espinosa gets traded, and hope Drew signs somewhere so the SS market shakes out. I also think Walters gets shipped out to Syracuse to be a 3B (with occasional SS and 2B) at AAA this year, playing every day.

    As for the pitching staff, Detwiler’s shift spells the end for Gonzalez (whom the team was willing to part with despite lesser options last year), and possibly Cedeno. Neither of them is “better” than Garcia, Ohlendorf or Ayala, who seem to me to have the inside track as righthanded options among candidates for a twelve man staff.

    I also think that if Garcia is healthy, it’s time to start working him in as an eventual long term option for late innings, like Barrett will be in AAA. The depth means we will not see Storen indefinitely and maybe he is the guy who gets traded (or Clippard) when injuries and lack of inventory drive either’s price to other teams higher.

    The bullpen competition is down, in my opinion, to Ohlendorf/Ayala/Garcia/Cedeno.

    As for the starters, I think it’s Roark’s to lose. Jordan is pushing him, as competition is good. But things are crystallizing on the opening day picture.


    18 Mar 14 at 4:52 pm

  16. With five OF already in the fold for the season (Harper, Werth; Span; McLouth; Hairston), the question for the last bench spot has little to do with who can play the OF.

    At this point it’s hard to imagine Carroll making the team over Espinosa. A 40yo infielder who OPS’d .518 last year? Barf. Carroll is a poor man’s Lombardozzi, who is a poor man’s David Eckstein. And David Eckstein … wasn’t very good. And I don’t see Espinosa getting traded, because if Desmond gets hurt the Nats would be left with either an old, mediocre field, no hit option at SS (Carroll) or a bad field, ??? hit option in Walters. I can live with an excellent field, no hit option at SS. That’s Espinosa. So he’ll be somewhere in the organization, more likely in DC but possibly in Syracuse.

    I agree that Detwiler to the ‘pen is it for Gonzalez. I think Cedeno goes to AAA with Tyler Robertson. I’m not a big fan of Ayala as the last guy in the bullpen – his ERA (3.27) was acceptable last year, sure, but his peripherals were not: 1.545 WHIP, 1.69 K/BB, etc. He had good years for the organization in Montreal, but that was a long time ago – he’s 36. I’d rather have Garcia. Heck, if Taylor Jordan is the #5 starter, you might see Roark AND Detwiler in the bullpen.

    John C.

    18 Mar 14 at 10:10 pm

  17. Kilgore’s piece yesterday made it sound like Espinoza is on the team, along with Hairston, and that the last bench spot is probably down to Moore vs. Carroll. So there’s apparently a possibility of the Nats keeping Espinoza *and* Carroll. Didn’t see that one coming. But I’ve already vented enough about my, uh, concerns for the bench.

    Another first-I’ve-heard-of-it detail from Kilgore is that Barrett has actually put himself in the running for the last bullpen slot. Kilgore makes that race Garcia vs. Ayala vs. Barrett.

    Here’s the Kilgore link:

    For whatever it’s worth, Roark dominated in a minor-league game yesterday, proving at minimum that there’s nothing left for him to do at Syracuse. With Jordan’s bad last outing, one would have to think that Roark has the current leg up.


    19 Mar 14 at 5:17 am

  18. Kilgore has been wrong before. He gets intel, sure, and is reading these blogs just as we learn from each other. So I would be very surprised if the Nats leapfrog the other established talent with Barrett because of his spring.

    With that said, let’s consider a few story lines from the upper minors that are not attracting much attention, and are worth weighing in here…

    Tyler Moore or Brock Peterson for AAA starting 1B (if no trade happens)? Can’t have both.

    Aaron Barrett, Christian Garcia, Richie Mirowski, Eric Davis, or Blake Treinen for late inning pitching at AAA?

    Roster spots are not just a problem at the ML level, but in AAA and AA as well. Again, the organization has taken a quantum leap in one year and this is evidence to that effect — and last year, four teams made the playoffs!

    Who are the most likely candidates to be traded by the organization from its 40 man roster to make room for non-roster invitees and other AAA talent (there are too many AAA arms to keep). Young is either being dangled or staying; Meyers is still off the radar in rehab this year; Komatsu is back healthy and a AAA outfielder. Josh Johnson will take on all comers when he is healthy again. Now what?

    I still think we will see multiple players traded before the season’s beginning. The rumors started yesterday with the Astros and Tyler Moore. Here’s hoping we get more for those who cannot fit than we did for Corey Brown, who had a nice spring in Boston and may even make their roster.


    19 Mar 14 at 10:17 am

  19. I’m not so sure Hairston has made the team. If the team was making a decision between Tyler Moore and Morse last year, they may well be making the same decision between Moore and Hairston this year. Moore’s defense has improved, he hits both lefties and righties, but Hairston has a pinch-hitting pedigree, like Carroll.

    It’s hard for me to envision Espinosa raising his hitting above .200 if he is an occasional player. But the team knows him better.


    19 Mar 14 at 10:26 am

  20. Barrett; the team didn’t put him on the 40-man for nothing. And consider this; for anyone who thinks that any one of Carroll, Fontenot, Peterson, Young, Ayala or Michael Gonzalez is actually making this team … then you have to also tell me which guy is getting DROPPED from the 40-man to make way. I would be really, really surprised if a NRI made the 25-man roster at this point.

    Todd Boss

    19 Mar 14 at 11:17 am

  21. Hairston not making this team: sorry, I just don’t see it. The team traded for him for a reason, they’re paying him lots of money, and he can refuse an assignment to the minors, which would be like the Nationals just lighting his $2.5M salary on fire. Yes I know they sent Lannan and his $5M salary to Syracuse … the difference was one word: Options.

    Todd Boss

    19 Mar 14 at 11:19 am

  22. Solano is on the bubble. A 60 day DL has been known to happen to this organization. And Eury Perez may not be long, either (with Kobernus’s speed in the organization and McLouth’s defense available for the next two years.

    But the point you make, Todd, about the roster and movements is well taken for the Peterson/Moore decision. Especially because the difference between the two may be negligible otherwise.

    The Hairston point, of lighting 2.5 m up, is hard to argue with. And I don’t spend other people’s money :)


    19 Mar 14 at 12:46 pm

  23. The Nats could clear a 40-man slot by trading Espinoza, Hairston, or Moore. I’ve said before that I think the only way that Hairston doesn’t make the club is if they trade him. I wouldn’t want to tell my boss that I just torched $2.5M, and neither does Rizzo. I can’t see that there would be too much of a market for Hairston, but you never know. (Those of us who don’t see him as a great option can always hope.)

    There would be a market for Espi, and it might be peaking about now. He’s certainly a better deal than Drew for any team in need. Rizzo knows this, of course, and would want a premium price for him. Rizzo may also be reluctant to pull the trigger on an Espi deal until he feels comfortable with Zimmerman’s arm situation.

    I can’t see T-Mo bringing much in trade right now. It might be the humane thing to do for his career, though. He’s not getting any younger, and I can’t think they see him as an everyday replacement for LaRoche next year.

    All of this said, though, do you trade Moore or particularly Espinoza just so you can keep Carroll or Mike Gonzalez? Really? I might trade Hairston to keep Carroll, or Ayala, but with Det in the ‘pen and Cedeno doing OK, Gonzalez is deep in the spare parts department right now.

    On other trade fronts, with starters dropping right and left, even with our friends in the East Bay, I’m sure Rizzo’s phone is ringing off the hook. I wonder what kind of a price he is quoting for Jordan or Roark.


    19 Mar 14 at 12:52 pm

  24. I forgot about The Onion. Still, organizational catching depth is a problem. I assume Snyder has an opt-out, and Leon hasn’t really hit. Fingers crossed that Nieto will bounce back from the Chisox, who haven’t really used him much in the spring.


    19 Mar 14 at 12:58 pm

  25. Trades not withstanding of course … this is a full 40-man roster team at the moment so you’d have to 60-day D/L a guy or release a guy to make room.

    My own personal “next guy to get DFA’d” list goes like this: Cedeno, Davis, Solano, Perez, Kobernus, Mattheus, Barrett. Of course, Davis->60 day D/L means he’s off the chopping block for the forseeable future.

    Nieto: as pointed out elsewhere, the White Sox are almost certain to return him by 4/1. So he’s at least back in the fold.

    Trading Espinosa; tough to see it right now as explained elsewhere; if Espinosa is traded and Desmond gets an injury … who is playing short?? If the answer is Walters … lets start selling helmets to the fans with seats behind first base. :-) If the answer is Fontentot/Carroll/Rhymes … that’s significantly weakening the bottom of this order.

    Trading Moore; yeah i’m sure H ouston wants him .. but what will they be willing to give up, given their current state of deconstruction? Washingotn would want prospects … but the whole point of Houston’s last several years was to acquire and develop prospects.

    Todd Boss

    19 Mar 14 at 1:30 pm

  26. KW: Great point about Oakland’s rotation depth right now. I mean, right now they’re going to war with Grey, Kazmir, Straily, Milone and probably Chavez, he of 2 career starts and a 5.48 career ERA. Phew. they did trade for Pomeranz in the off-season so maybe he’s in the mix too but he was pretty bad in Colorado these last three years too.

    If Rizzo wouldn’t trade Jordan to Detroit for Fister … what would he want out of Oakland? One of their big hitters? (Donaldson, Moss, Reddick or Cespedes?)

    Todd Boss

    19 Mar 14 at 1:34 pm

  27. There are 2 or 3 easy spots to open on the roster – my list goes Perez, Cedeno, and then Solano (just because it’s highly likely they’ll need a 3rd catcher on the roster sometime fairly soon).

    That being said, $2MM is not a terrible amount to waste compared to the drama over Haren last year (and my concern about potentially Soriano and ALR this year if/when they underperform). Making the playoffs/WS is big money and they should discard Hairston now.

    And, while I like Jordan better as our 5th guy, Roark is awfully close and I think it’s better to let Jordan get some add’l seasoning while having Garcia as #7 in the pen and Roark as #5 in the rotation. Then, TJ is first man up in the rotation and Barrett is first man up in the pen.

    I’m not worried about Young leaving the team. We have good depth this year and 85mph guys like Young are dime a dozen.

    Andrew R

    19 Mar 14 at 9:46 pm

  28. Ohlendorf, McLouth, and Hairston to the A’s for Cespedes. Heck, throw in Young as well. Billy gets two starters and dumps a $10.5M contract, which the Nats can cover by unloading $8.25M in salaries in the deal (not counting Young). The Nats roll the dice that Cespedes’s regression last year wasn’t permanent, but they do it without giving up any key pieces. Span becomes a real semi-everyday fourth OF and high-quality bench piece (something Harper G. suggested on his blog several months ago). And I no longer get to complain about Hairston. Everybody wins!

    Seriously, though, with Oly seemingly healthy, the Nats have an amazing abundance of starting pitching while arms are falling off right and left around the league. Beyond the Big Four, the Nats have Roark, Jordan, Detwiler, and Ohlendorf. I refuse to count Young, but he’s still there. So is Treinen, whom everyone says is very close to ready for the show. This is why they felt they could deal Karns. Seems like they could do some other deals as well and still have plenty of depth.

    (For the record, I’d prefer Donaldson to Cespedes, but Billy’s got to be looking to move that salary.)


    20 Mar 14 at 12:22 pm

  29. Latest cuts are telling. Garcia not yet ready, and Treinen has officially assumed the dark horse breakthrough of the spring. Cedeno is still in the mix.

    So, too for Chris Snyder. With Solano shipped out, hopefully the organization can keep him closer than Koyie Hill.


    20 Mar 14 at 2:27 pm

  30. I’m going with Jamey Carroll over Tyler Moore. Most NL managers are going to want 2 infielders on the bench. I’m not saying I think it’s the right move but that is my prediction.

    I think Roark is the 5th starter and Aaron Barrett is the last reliever. Jordan goes to AAA, Matheus to the DL and the rest go to Syracuse.


    20 Mar 14 at 6:17 pm

  31. Treinen is a starter. He has exponentially more value, to the Nats or to someone else, as a starter. The thought of keeping him as one of the last guys in the bullpen, with limited work opportunities, makes no sense. He also hasn’t had overwhelmingly great spring numbers. I have to wonder if they’re keeping him in the MLB camp to showcase him.

    I do think Carroll has become a threat to Moore. That said, if he does beat out Moore, that doesn’t leave much power on the pine. Another reason that it’s good to keep Carroll around is just in case a deal for Espinoza does emerge. Carroll can play SS and could fill the utility role all around.

    Barrett *has* had great spring numbers. If there is truly an open spot in the ‘pen, he’s doing everything possible to earn it. If they keep a RHP short reliever, it’s probably him. But, as everyone has noted, if Jordan beats out Roark, then that spot will go to Roark. If Roark wins #5, then the bullpen spot would be among Barrett or a loogy (Cedeno/M. Gonzalez), or perhaps a long man (Treinen or Young, neither of whom make a lot of sense to me).

    Just trying to read the tea leaves, like everyone else.


    21 Mar 14 at 6:32 am

  32. KW: proposed Oakland trade: close :-) I think Cespedes WILL eventually be available, as will some of Oakland’s other hitters … but not until they start getting expensive in arbitration. I’ll bet you $1 right now that Rizzo and Beane hook up on a “blockbuster” like this in a couple years’ time (perhaps in the 2016 off-season, when the Nats stand to lose a huge chunk of their existing team) to do some remaking of the roster on the fly.

    Todd Boss

    21 Mar 14 at 8:38 am

  33. Carroll over Moore: yeah Kilgore agrees with you too. Roark vs Jordan: i dunno … I think the move is to make Jordan the 5th, Roark in the pen but he’s fully stretched out and ready to cover if someone is hurt or underperforms. I mean, isn’t this basically what he did last year? That gives the Nats two “starters” in the pen to go with the core 5 relievers who we all know are locks. Pushes Barrett and Treinen to AAA … not the worst thing in the world. Mattheus may need to hit the D/L frankly; he’s barely thrown this spring. Or he gets optioned; he’s got options.

    Todd Boss

    21 Mar 14 at 8:40 am

  34. If Moore doesn’t make the team, is he immediately moved to Houston? Eh probably not; i’d want to keep him around as 1B cover in case the aging LaRoche gets hurt.

    Todd Boss

    21 Mar 14 at 8:41 am

  35. The Nats and A’s will do some sort of deal this year. I think it’s in statute that they have to. Heck, they might even trade Suzuki again. Just don’t tell the Twins.


    21 Mar 14 at 8:30 pm

  36. It is funny to look at the Michael Morse trade now. I remember not being blown away by the return but I have to really give our scouts a lot of credit. Krol and Treinen seemed like long shots to make the majors and Cole looked like damaged goods. Now Cole and Treinen are both on the cusp and Krol already debuted and was a major piece in acquiring Fister. Treinen seems to have replaced Karns on the depth chart which freed him up to acquire even more young talent and a backup catcher. This organization has become very good in the trade department for the most part.


    22 Mar 14 at 9:43 am

  37. This should be a fun week. Injuries to other teams, and unexpectedly so, drive up the market for tradeable chips as expected. The Nats have depth to acquire some good lower minor chips. I wonder how much this relates to who is still up with the ML. Rizzo quiet as per usual.


    23 Mar 14 at 7:33 pm

  38. Further evidence of the health of the farm system comes in the form of the list of those released. They include the familiar prospect Cameron Selik, who had been injured, Rob Wort, who returned from injury and was only two years away from eye popping strikeout totals at high A, Joel Barrientos, a once-promising Dominican lefty from 2012 who flopped at age 19 in Auburn (English? homesick?), Elliot Waterman, a college draft pick from 2012 whose numbers weren’t bad if at the GCL, and Kelvin Rodriguez, undefeated in the GCL last year. Go figure.

    Coulda been Stephen Souza.

    It is sobering on the one hand to wonder how many of the exciting stars of the 2013 GCL Nats will be jettisoned as early as a year from now. But on the other hand, it also shows that the team has a far more competitive group of athletes up and down the organization, that these folks were let go so early as they were.


    24 Mar 14 at 12:01 am


    Yeah … i havn’t digested this yet but definitely am shocked by some of the names. 5 years ago these guys would have hung on until hitting MLFA. Now its improve or you’re out.

    Todd Boss

    24 Mar 14 at 3:25 pm

  40. The turning point may well have been when the organization dumped Trevor Holder last year, despite decent performance and his reaching AA.

    There are 35 people in camp. That is definitely more than many teams; I think Rizzo is showcasing for trade potential and that Williams knows more about his roster composition than he is saying. This is just such a different circumstance from any previous year i can remember, including the year when the Nats were credit as being the top organization.

    What does a top organization do? Show the patience with a project that lasts more than one year and rehab him and hope and invest in his character. The organization has sort of the right idea with Wang, but he never quite got there and cost them a 4 million dollar free agent contract. Now Young is 72 hours or less from being traded (I do not think they will keep him, and the rumors herald a Rizzo deal like white smoke brings a pope). What did it cost them? Two years, patience, rehab, and goodwill and minor league contracts only. Good job.

    Another sign; that Dan Haren was on the cup of free agency, was not going to be resigned, and the Nats were hot and so was he. Suddenly, there was some interest right before September 1. Rizzo did not bite and he got nothing when Haren walked. Anything on Chris Young is found money, like Matthew Spann for David DeJesus minus the investment in player rehab, plus the goodwill from the next such player, the mark Mulder type, who will want to cast his lot with Washington because of their reputation in the industry and among the players. THAT is a top organization.

    Hopefully Chris Young will not be the only flipped asset. Injuries have really aided the seller. Pass the popcorn.

    With that said, Lombo is part of a trade to get Fister, and before the next season, is flipped for only a minor league signee — by a team that need everyday middle infield help. Wow.


    24 Mar 14 at 3:47 pm

  41. Haren; Well, lets be fair. If Rizzo knew on August 1st that his team wasn’t making the playoffs … he would have traded Haren for whatever he could get. All Haren got this team was 19 losses in his 30 starts and a whole lot of frustration. No comp picks, no prospects.

    Boswell thinks Detwiler is getting traded and I can’t blame him; you know who could use Detwiler? Our buddies out in Oakland, who suddenly are going to go with Tommy Milone as their FOURTH starter and some mlfa retread as their 5th. Think Beane wouldn’t mind having a power lefty in that park? I’d move Detwiler, get some sort of useable asset, replace him with Treinen or Barrett or maybe even one of the other lefty relievers they’re stockpiling. A happy player is a productive player, and Detwiler’s not happy.

    Meanwhile … who is tyler Moore? Is Steven Souza a replacement? Can that be worth a trade right now too?

    Todd Boss

    24 Mar 14 at 6:49 pm

  42. Det would be selling lower, though he is controllable. I dunno. There may be concerns about his attitude, but what return would be worth trading his talent, especially when he really can help in the bullpen? A package including Sean Doolittle, a better backup catcher, and big minor league bat? Even in trading Karns, who was quality, they got return the Nats thought they really needed.

    I am usually very complimentary of Rizzo. But I still think he erred in not flipping Haren as he did Jason Marquis. Even as the team was surging, there was little hope of overtaking the Braves.

    As for Souza, he will only be a full time player in DC. I can’t see the organization letting him rot on the bench when he has not yet played a full season without injury and has yet to prove himself in AAA — and as you know, I am one of Souza’s most enthusiastic proponents.


    24 Mar 14 at 7:24 pm

  43. It would have to be a heck of a deal to make it worth giving up Det. He’s an integral part of the plan. We’d have to be talking a starting-quality position player in return.

    I would think more in terms of trading Ohlendorf or Treinen. It would be pretty funny if Billy traded to get one of his old guys back yet again. It would seem to be a sellers’ market for starters right now. Middle infielders, too. Hope Lombo didn’t get too used to his Tiger threads. Teams have to be calling about Danny, but again, the offers would have to be really good to make it worth it.

    Still a few things to shake out this week for the Nats. All in all, though, it’s been great to have legit competition, particularly for the 5th starter spot. Both Jordan and Roark have really risen to the challenge. It’s interesting, too, that Matt W. seems to have sent a message through the media to Hairston that he isn’t a lock. Of course Hairston and Carroll are now at dualing .194s.


    24 Mar 14 at 9:01 pm

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