Nationals Arm Race

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

25-man roster finalization; Don’t like it but understand it.


Did we really need a .232 pinch hitter who can't play the field? Photo Carlson/AP via

As the Nats are breaking camp, they’ve announced a flurry of roster moves that are setting up the team for its opening day.  And, in a series of moves reminiscent to 2009’s opening day roster, we’re breaking camp not necessarily with the best guys on our 25-man roster, but with the best team option status (or lack of them) can assemble.

As the title of this post suggests, I understand the logic of these decisions but don’t necessarily like what it means for the team.  I think we’re weaker than we could be, and we’re keeping around veterans with no long term place for this team instead of playing guys who deserve to be on the MLB squad.  I think it sends a bad message to guys who deserve to be playing but who will be heading to Syracuse.

Both Collin Balester and Roger Bernadina seem to have missed out on roster spots so that the team would not lose players who may have trade value in Chad Gaudin and Laynce Nix respectively.

For some reason, we’re keeping Matt Stairs instead of a player who can actually help off the bench.  As pointed out by Ben Goessling, this also means that our bench is incredibly lefty-heavy and we’ll struggle with matchups later in games. Isn’t Rizzo obsessed with defense?  How does Stair’s lack of *any* discernable defensive capability fit in with his overall vision for this team?  Another Natsmosphere twitter-er asked this good question; if Adam LaRoche‘s shoulder puts him on the DL; who exactly is the backup first baseman out of this group of bench players?

So, for our final 25-man roster we’re using 4 non-roster invitees.  Gaudin makes the team and probably deserved it.  Nix makes the team and seems to be trade bait.  Stairs makes the team for some reason or another.  And Alex Cora probably (deservedly) makes the team as Alberto Gonzalez‘s replacement (who we’ve traded to San Diego for a pretty good prospect considering we would have DFA’d him in 3 days…).

I guess if we obtain prospects for Gaudin or Nix in a trade later on this season, then it would be worth the options burn on Balester and Bernadina.  I hope so; along with Detwiler and Mock, 2011 represents their final option year.

Written by Todd Boss

March 29th, 2011 at 9:28 am

6 Responses to '25-man roster finalization; Don’t like it but understand it.'

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  1. Morse will move to 1B when it becomes clear that LaRoche is damaged goods and Bernadina comes back to play LF.

    Sec 314

    29 Mar 11 at 11:36 am

  2. The guys who got sent down (Bernadina, Ballestar, Detwiler) are one call-up away from turning the tables: they will be out of options and the day that they get the call they will know that they are in the Major Leagues to stay

    Mark in Arlington

    29 Mar 11 at 11:51 am

  3. Not a bad call. Morse is a converted middle infielder and (should) have the skills required to play 1B. Of course, one could argue that we should have just done this with Josh Willingham instead of trading him for who we got. Willingham’s proven offensive production clearly outranks whatever Morse has done in the past and what LaRoche is capable of. I just hope the players we got for Willingham eventually pan out and validate the trade.

    Todd Boss

    29 Mar 11 at 12:54 pm

  4. I dunno. Someone (can’t remember the source, perhaps twitter) said something telling about Bernadina. He lost the LF competition, then lost CF competition, then lost the 4th outfielder competition (mostly on the basis of options vs Nix). If the team really liked the guy, you’d think they would have found a way to keep him right? I think Bernadina’s limit has been reached. I see a DFA during spring training 2012 as the end of his tenure here.

    I’m really curious to see how Detwiler would fare with a full MLB season. He’s never had it. The crummy part is that he’s blown two options to compile a grand total of 19 starts. Smooth move Bowden, to call him up for one IP in 2007.

    Balester is the one guy who i’m confident in producing this year. I’m almost certain that one or two of these guys in the bullpen now will get injured or under-perform badly within the first month.

    Todd Boss

    29 Mar 11 at 1:01 pm

  5. I’d forgotten about the Detwiler 1 year of options for 1 IP. That was incredibly dumb.
    The only thing that makes sense for Stairs is he was Werth’s hitting coach in Philly and they must think that he’ll provide that for some of the young guys this year.

    Mark L

    29 Mar 11 at 3:10 pm

  6. Completely agree. Can’t say more than that.


    30 Mar 11 at 8:42 pm

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