Tuesday, March 26, 2013

Could Romero take Rodriguez's spot?

USA Today Sports Images
J.C. Romero looked sharp in his first Nats appearance last night.
VIERA, Fla. -- From the moment they arrived for spring training six weeks ago, the Nationals knew they had perhaps one spot on their Opening Day roster up for grabs: The final spot in their bullpen.

As the spring played out and several potential contenders either succumbed to injury (Christian Garcia) or were shipped to minor-league camp (Bill Bray, Will Ohman), that roster spot appeared not to be up for grabs at all. The job would go to Henry Rodriguez.

But as the clock winds down on the longest camp in franchise history, the Nationals aren't talking about Rodriguez's status with any level of certainty. And after the right-hander endured though yet another erratic outing last night, only to watch as the recently signed J.C. Romero cruised through a 1-2-3 inning of relief, there's reason to wonder whether this spot really is up for grabs after all with less than 72 hours remaining in camp.

Start with Rodriguez, who has been all over the map this spring, then was held back on Sunday due to elbow soreness, according to manager Davey Johnson. Rodriguez, though, explained to Johnson he didn't experience the soreness when pitching, only when stretching. So he was back on the mound last night in Kissimmee.

At which point he threw seven straight balls to open the bottom of the fifth, nearly decapitating Astros DH Rick Ankiel with one of them.

"He had me worried again," Johnson said. "But he threw the ball good. He was a lot better."

Indeed, Rodriguez somehow managed to right the ship and wound up retiring the next three batters he faced, striking out two.

So what now for the enigmatic right-hander? Johnson wants him to appear in at least two of the Nationals' final four exhibition games.

What about the elbow, which was operated on last summer? Johnson masterfully danced around the subject when asked if it's guaranteed Rodriguez will make the Opening Day roster.

"Like I said, he didn't have much of a ... he was out the whole year. He didn't have any winter ball. He had the operation. He's going to take some time," the manager said. "I think his arm is feeling pretty good. But power pitchers always have a problem. Every spring I've ever had them. And with what he went through in the winter, he's behind everybody. But he'll get it. When he gets it over, he's nasty."

Now, contrast that long-winded and ambiguous answer with what Johnson had to say about Romero after the veteran left-hander retired the side in the eighth inning of his first game with the Nationals.

Said Johnson: "He looks ready to me."

Romero, signed to a minor-league contract on Friday with no assurances of making the club, was pleased with his outing. Having already pitched in winter ball and for Puerto Rico in the World Baseball Classic, he insists he's good to go despite an obviously abbreviated spring.

"I'm ready," he said. "I feel ready. I'm healthy. And as long as I'm healthy, the amount of innings you need to get ready for the start of the season, that can change. For me, not only playing winter ball but also playing in the World Baseball Classic, pretty much I didn't stop throwing the whole year. So it's carrying over. I feel good. I feel real good."

Could Romero swoop in at the last minute and take Rodriguez's spot in the Opening Day bullpen? The stars certainly appear aligned for that to happen.

55 comments:

Mac said...

You better not be toying with us here, Mark.

Will said...

I wouldn't be surprised to see Romero start the season in Syracuse and HRod start in Washington only for the purpose of giving the Nats more time to shop HRod around.

When the Nats announced Romero's signing, Rizzo was very clear that there was an agreement that Romero would spend time in Syracuse. There is definitely an opt out date, and I think the Nats will keep Romero in Syracuse until that date arrives, cross their fingers that HRod pitches well and builds some value, and then take the best offer available (if there is one) for HRod.

SCNatsFan said...

Will I disagree; Romero starts here, Henry starts on the DL and if he pitches Henry like in rehab he gets shopped, if he gets it together he stays. If he doesn't pitch well in rehab then... he still gets moved for an embarrassingly poor player.

D'Gourds said...

I Just Don't Get It. Hrod Has Never Shown The Ability To Be A Consistant Mlb Pitcher. Why Do We Waste A 40 Man Roster Spot On Him? We're The Favorite To Represent The NL In The World Series. We Don't Need To Be Experimenting With Head Cases Like Henry. Cut Him Loose! So What If Billy Bean Won That Particular Trade? You Can't Win Them All. Adjust Your Ego And Move On. Give The Spot To The Lefty Romero!

Dwight Holmes said...

Henry doesn't get traded (if he goes) he gets released. He has no options left and therefore no trade value.

MurrayTheRed said...

I partially agree with SC, but I think MPHrod doesn't get shopped. Rizzo likes him, a lot. He will stay on the DL as long as they are legally allowed to keep him there. Eventually someone will go down and then Henry will be back in Washington.

Drew said...

"When he gets it over, he's nasty."

When bin Laden was friendly, he was really friendly.

Mac said...

The best time to DFA Henry would be the end of this week when all the other teams are finalizing their 25 man rosters. It's unlikely another team would claim him then since they'd have to clear room on their roster for him. He could easily clear waivers and be signed back on a minor league deal. That's how you have your cake and eat it too.

4571c960-cc1f-11e1-909b-000bcdcb471e said...

I'm with D'Gourds. Henry Rodriguez is never going to get better, its been three years now and he is what he is. I don't understand the desire of being afraid someone else gets him and haunts the Nats. I personally would be overjoyed if we were fighting for a pennant and Henry came into pitch for the Braves or Phillies in a key situation.

Its too bad they didn't worry about Morse haunting us if traded. That is my real concern. Philadelphia has always liked him, in fact they tried to get him when we signed Werth. If the M's have a bad start, I can see Seattle trading him to Philadelphia and the Beast biting us in the butt.

Sec. 3, My Sofa said...

I can imagine some team that has roster space treating him like a Rule 5 guy, and keeping him on the off chance that a change of scenery lets him settle down, so they can flip him later, or release him if that doesn't happen. If Bowden were still GM somewhere, for instance.

sjm308 said...

I actually like Mac's idea. Wait as long as possible, you have Romero no matter what so there is no urgency. Don't dl Henry, put him out there and see what happens. If he is grabbed and unlike most, I am not sure he will be with the injuries and wildness, then you can either pull him off waivers, try and make a trade (highly unlikely since we already have Cutter Dykstra) or release him.

Section 222 said...

I hope Mac is right and Rizzo figures out how to get H-Rod back in the minors where he can work on things. If he ever puts it together, he will be a weapon. But right now, he's just going to blow up in our faces.

Sec. 3, My Sofa said...

D'Gourds, I Think You've Hit On A "Proper" Promo Idea: Initial Caps Day!

sm13 said...

Given his, to put it mildly, erratic Spring and concerns aouy his elbow, might it ne possible that Henry passes through waivers and can be optioned to Syracuse?

Sec. 3, My Sofa said...

Do We Know For Sure They Haven't Had Him On The Waiver Wire And Pulled Him Back Already? They Don't Always Announce It. If He's Been Pulled Back, The Next Waiver Is Irrevocable.

SCNatsFan said...

There is no way Henry passes thru waivers. He's cheap with a high upside; too many teams who aren't contenders will take the chance and let him be the 25th man until he shows management there what he shows management here.

JayB said...

Not interested in having the cake or eating the cake. Come on Rizzo just admit it was a bad trade. You got nothing of value from Billy Bean.....just another in a long list of GM's that have been taken by Billy.

Teddy Rochlis said...

Had my fantasy draft yesterday, managed to snag Storen, Zimmermann, and Espi, tried to get Desi but was picked 1 pick before me.

Ken said...

The perfect ending to the Henry Rodriguez era would be that the Nats put him on waivers and someone (Please) claims him to add him to their bullpen...

The sooner Rodriguez is part of the list of ex Nats players, the better off they'll be. It will be a classic case of improvement by subtraction. Henry is totally useless.

BTW, Mark, could you ask Davey what part of "seven straight balls" is "pitching good" the next time you talk to him?

A child can see that Henry can't pitch. Hell, he's barely a good thrower. To call this guy a pitcher is a joke.

Ghost Of Steve M. said...

phil dunton said...
Sadly, the roster spot Young can't have will probably go to Henry Rodriguez!

March 26, 2013 8:04 AM


Romero wants that spot also but luckily he signed a Minor League deal.

Chris Young is hinting real hard to get that long-man spot in the bullpen.

As I mentioned last year, Stammen is a former starter but it seemed that once he came out for a 2nd inning he faltered more times than not.

It seems Duke is the long-man and Stammen as the next in line for multiple innings and certainly Duke could go as the lefty specialist as his main need in the bullpen.

I guess we will know soon enough but in order to keep Chris Young I would give it to him and keep Romero in AAA and send Henry to the DL. That will at least buy some time.

Doc said...

Ultimately, the way you deal with Henry, is to help him with his mental approach. Whether that's with the Nats or some other team.

As stated by myself and several others here over time, Cat needs to continue to work on that approach.

Hire a sports psychologist that speaks Spanish, to help out. Henry has done the deal before, he can do it again. There was a time two seasons ago that he struck out the side on a minimum of pitches in real relief.

Candide said...

Randy Johnson was crazy wild until he was 29. He led the league in BB three straight years; he also led the league in Ks the last of those three years (1992). He also led the league in HBP in 1992 and 1993. But look at his walk totals starting in '93, and you see he suddenly figured it all out. You know what happened next.

Koufax was a mess until the year he turned 25. He averaged 6 BB/9 innings and led the league in wild pitches the year he was 22. He suddenly got his control figured out the year he turned 25. You know what happened next.

And that's why they're sticking so long with Henry. He could be one of those guys.

The hotels all have room service, the women have long legs and brains...the pitchers, they throw ungodly breaking stuff in the Show. Exploding sliders. You could be one of those guys.

Ghost Of Steve M. said...

Mac said...
The best time to DFA Henry would be the end of this week when all the other teams are finalizing their 25 man rosters. It's unlikely another team would claim him then since they'd have to clear room on their roster for him. He could easily clear waivers and be signed back on a minor league deal. That's how you have your cake and eat it too.

March 26, 2013 9:20 AM


That's an interesting thought and could work but you have to think there are some teams that put some relievers on their rosters with options left. All they'd have to do is move a reliever down to make room for Henry and try it.

Hard to tell which way this will work out with this triangle of Young, Henry, and Romero, but we will know real soon as Young's decision is coming shortly.

Section 222 said...

Come on Rizzo just admit it was a bad trade. You got nothing of value from Billy Bean.....just another in a long list of GM's that have been taken by Billy.

Wait, wait, what about Corey Brown?? I hear he did really well at Syracuse last year.

timeless46 said...

Would be fun to read a comment from Ankiel about his at bat against Henry yesterday.......

BigCat said...

The difference between .250 and .300 is 25 hits in 500 at bats. In a 6 month season thats one extra flair a week. One extra grounder with eyes.

"One extra dying quail a week and you're in Yankee Stadium."

JayB said...

222 surely you jest right? C Brown....yes and he will do really well again in AA/AAA.....he is like 27 now right (28 before end of the year)? He has no future here and if he had a future at the MLB level Rizzo should trade him for youth.....but that is not happening because.....he is a AAA hitter at best.

Section 222 said...

Um, yes JayB, I was jesting.

natsfan1a said...

And don't call him Shirley.

Positively Half St. said...

sjm308-

I don't see that anyone else remarked on it, but I need to give you your due on this very funny comment:

"try and make a trade (highly unlikely since we already have Cutter Dykstra)"

+1/2St.

JayB said...

Yes that was very funny....and I would make that trade again and again....N. Morgan was cancer as was Lastings....they both are out of baseball (USA at least) as I predicted...in Morgan's base a year later than I said....Lastings right on time.

BigCat said...

scouts had Young at 79-82 mph with his fastball. one scout was quoted as "I don't know how he does it."

NatsJack in Florida said...

It was amazing watching how many swings and misses he got on pitches that were up in the zone. If I hadn't seen it for myself I would have never believed it.

Traveler8 said...

Where is Livo these days, anyway?

BigCat said...

Isn't Young 6'7" or something. And he comes right over the top doesn't he? Probably has something to do with the angle of his pitches

NatsJack in Florida said...

He's darn near 6'10".

natsfan1a said...

I don't think Livo's landed anywhere. I did turn up an interesting butt-dial incident that involved him, though. :-)

Knoxville Nat said...

He's darn near 6'10".

Randy Johnson size but without the velocity. I don't know how he does it either but I've been impressed watching him.

Unknown said...

Who cares whether or not some other team takes Henry if he is DFA'd. I wish the Braves or Phillies would take him. That would be a double plus for the Nats. Henry is a choker; he can't stand the pressure of relief pitching. He willnever be any more than a big tease and shame on Rizzo for being duped.

NCNatsie said...

He's at least 6'10' and a string bean type, so he looks even taller out there on the mound.

Can one of you who is good at math and physics develop an estimate of how much difference that makes in the length of time a hitter has to judge his pitches? Where does a six-foot pitcher with a normal stride and motion actually release the ball -- how far from the plate. If Young releases it a foot closer to the plate, what is the relative time differential for how long a pitch of, say 90 miles an hour takes to get to the plate. Then take the percentage of difference and get a number representing the "effective" speed of his pitches.

My guess is it would add about 2 mph.

Davide said...

Bah..Seven balls in a row are too much for everybody..I don't know how could H-Rod still be in the roster and not in the minors. Sure, he throws a great fastball but he has no control on it. A pitcher that gives free basis in that way is a liability.

I have a question: is everybody happy of Span's spring training? He has been presented like the leadoff hitter that the organization needed, but it seems to be a tricky spring for him until now..

3on2out said...

This just in: Sport Illustrated's Baseball Preview issue is out. Strasburg on the cover and the magazine predicts the Nationals will win the World Series.

Section 222 said...

Stammen is a former starter but it seemed that once he came out for a 2nd inning he faltered more times than not.

It might have seemed that way, but it's not actually true. Stammen had 59 appearances and in 32 of them he pitched for more than one inning. In 20 of those multi-inning appearances, he didn't give up a run. That seems pretty good to me. (I didn't try to figure out in which inning he gave up the run(s).)

In his 27 one inning or less appearances, he gave up a run 8 times. So he may have been a little more effective as a one inning reliever, but not that much.

Still, I'd be happy to see Young stay instead of Henry, and let Stammen be a 6th or 7th inning guy, particuarly because he is very good against lefties. But I'll take Romero over Henry too. I just don't want to hold my breath during Henry's appearances any more.

4571c960-cc1f-11e1-909b-000bcdcb471e said...

I was at Nats spring training for two weeks. I like Span personally, he is a really nice guy. But I was disappointed in him as a player, I hate to say it but he reminds me of Lastings Milledge, he doesn't run good routes and doesn't seem to have baseball instincts.

In my opinion the lineup is stronger with the Shark in center or TMo in left and Harper in center. I think replacing Morse in the lineup with Span weakens the team substantially.

Again, this is based on two spring training weeks, so my opinion could change over time.

Doc said...

Some good stats' stuff Triple 2's.

Stammen is sorta expected to hold the line with multiple innings--that's his role.

Lacking the stats that you presented, I still felt from watching games that he was in last year equally effective in 1 or 2 innings. There were a few times in relief, I believe, where he pitched into the 3rd inning

I think that there was one time at least where he K'd 7 or 8 in 3 inning stint. I stand corrected if not actually true.

I don't think, in line with that which you have suggested from the stats, that there is any significant stattistical difference between Stammen's RA in 1 inning pitched vs. more than one inning pitched.

The question is, of course, can he do it again this year???

I'm hoping that he can!!

Sec. 3, My Sofa said...

NCNatsie, haven't done the math, but
here's an interesting article that says height doesn't matter.

Sec. 3, My Sofa said...

Short version:
"In sum, the data indicate that height is essentially irrelevant when a pitcher is good enough to become an established major-league pitcher.

At this point we can say out loud what our eyes say when we watch Tim Lincecum or Greg Maddux. Height does not matter for major-league pitchers because only the truly talented make it to the major leagues in the first place."

Sec. 3, My Sofa said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Doc said...

Excellent article, Sec. 3.

Thanks!

It reflects one definite area where stats wins and scouts loose. the delusion of height and pitching goes a way back in the history of baseball.

As long as amateur teams only pick the tall guys to pitch, and scouts only look at tall pitchers, things won't change.

Sorry Pedro, Whitey, and Greg (not sure of Maddux's height?) you guys should have played 2nd base!

Rollin' Nolan was about 8" shorter than Chris Young when he threw the ball.

Sec. 3, My Sofa said...

I don't think the average MLB pitcher 6'0" -- probably more like 6'3" or 6'4" -- so a 6'10" pitcher is maybe 6" taller than average. A given pitcher's release point and stride probably affect the effective distance as much or more, is my guess. But since you asked, a fastball that averages 90 mph (as opposed to 90 at release, or 90 when it arrives) travels about 15 inches in a hundredth of a second, so if he were pitching from a foot closer (which I doubt, but if) he'd gain about 0.008 seconds, FWIW, or less than the equivalent of 1 mph. My guess.

Sec. 3, My Sofa said...

B-R.com lists Maddux at 6'0", 170#.

Section 222 said...

Doc, my memory was like yours, which is why I wanted to see what the numbers said. Stammen struck out 6, all swinging, in his two inning stint against the Phillies on October 1. His sinker wsa ridiculous that night, which, by the way, was he night we clinched if I'm not mistaken. Good times.

Sec. 3, My Sofa said...

And then there's Peanut Johnson. Five-three.

natsfan1a said...

I've probably told this before, but I got to see her speak at a Smithsonian program some time ago. She was a hoot, talking smack to the former position players (I could strike you out, too!).

UnkyD said...



The commentary on Young's ability to get Ks in the low 80's reminds me of watching Moyer pitch for the O's. back when Frank Thomas was among the most feared hitters going, I saw Jamie strike him out 3 times, in one game... It was highly amusing to see Thomas cussing his bat out, as he trudged back to the dugout, after K#3....

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