Tuesday, March 30, 2010

Nats vs. Marlins -- 3/30/10

Photo by Mark Zuckerman / NATS INSIDER
Roger Dean Stadium, spring home of both the Marlins and Cardinals.
JUPITER, Fla. -- It's another beautiful morning in Florida, one of the last few we'll have down here. The Nationals have only four games left on the Grapefruit League schedule, all of them road games: today against the Marlins, tomorrow against the Cardinals, Thursday against the Mets and Friday against the Red Sox.

Because we're so close to the end, the lineups are starting to have more resemblance to the one Jim Riggleman will trot out next week. Plenty of regulars on the trip today, including Ryan Zimmerman, Adam Dunn and Ivan Rodriguez. Also note Cristian Guzman is starting at shortstop.

The key guy to watch today, though, is Garrett Mock. The right-hander has gone from seemingly a lock to make the rotation as the Nats' No. 3 starter to suddenly battling for the No. 5 spot. Plain and simple, he needs to put together a nice outing today to make his final case for inclusion on the Opening Day roster.

Check back for updates along the way...

Roger Dean Stadium, Jupiter, Fla.
Gametime: 1:05 p.m.
TV/Radio: None
Weather: Sunny, 71 degrees, Wind 11 mph LF to RF
CF Nyjer Morgan
SS Cristian Guzman
3B Ryan Zimmerman
1B Adam Dunn
LF Mike Morse
2B Adam Kennedy
C Ivan Rodriguez
RF Willy Taveras
P Garrett Mock

LF Chris Coghlan
CF Cameron Maybin
2B Dan Uggla
3B Mike Lamb
C Ronny Paulino
1B Gaby Sanchez
RF Bryan Petersen
SS Brian Barden
P Chris Volstad

11:45 a.m. -- Though Cristian Guzman is starting at shortstop, manager Jim Riggleman said he'll move to second base for at least a few innings today. Guzman also is slated to start at second base tomorrow against the Cardinals.

1:07 p.m. -- And away we go ... Nyjer Morgan takes a strike from Chris Volstad.

1:11 p.m. -- I think it's safe to say Ryan Zimmerman is ready for the regular season. Zim smoked a two-out double to left-center, raising his spring average to a stout .408 with 10 extra-base hits. Adam Dunn, not quite so ready for the season. After striking out to end the inning, Dunn is now batting .167.

1:23 p.m. -- Kind of a shaky start for Garrett Mock. He fell behind Chris Coghlan 3-1 before retiring him on a groundout. Gave up a double down the third-base line to Cameron Maybin. Struck out Dan Uggla looking at a nice pitch. But then walked Mike Lamb and uncorked a wild pitch to put runners on second and third. Managed to get out of it by getting Ronny Paulino to pop out. Scoreless after one.

1:42 p.m. -- Mock's philosophy all spring has been simple: Attack hitters. Well, he's not doing that so far today. He's fallen behind just about every Marlins batter, and that cost him in the second inning. Bryan Petersen singled on a 1-0 pitch. Mock then fell behind opposing pitcher Chris Volstad 2-0, then after throwing a strike served up a towering double off the left-field wall. The Nats might have nailed Petersen at the plate, but Cristian Guzman's throw (while on-line) had very little mustard on it. We keep hearing that Guzman has the ability to cut loose on a throw if he needs to. Well, we still haven't seen it yet, so either he hasn't needed to or he simply can't. Marlins lead, 1-0, after two.

1:53 p.m. -- OK, Guzman still can hit a little. He smoked a gap shot to right-center in the third, scoring Nyjer Morgan (who reached on an error) and then took off to stretch the hit into a triple. Maybe Guzy can just serve as a pinch-hitting specialist, a la Lenny Harris. We're now tied 1-1 in the bottom of the third.

2:06 p.m. -- Boy, Guzman is just figuring into a lot of stuff in this game so far. He booted a routine grounder off Dan Uggla's bat with one out in the third, and that opened the floodgates. Mock allowed a single to Mike Lamb, then a double to deep right-center to Ronny Paulino. Bryan Peterson also walked, though Mock got out of the inning without allowing any more runs. It's now 3-1 Marlins, though.

2:10 p.m. -- Adam Dunn reached on perhaps the strangest base hit you'll ever see. He skied a pop-up about 75 feet down the third-base line. Looked like a routine out. But then third baseman Mike Lamb either lost the ball in the sun or else just misjudged it because he slid across the baseline and made a weak attempt to stab the ball, which landed about 12 inches fair and then just stuck there, like a perfectly placed pitching wedge. For a guy hitting .167, Dunn will certainly take it.

2:22 p.m. -- Despite allowing another hit to Volstad (a leadoff single to right) Mock gets out of the fourth with no other damage. His line so far: 4 ip, 6 h, 3 r, 2 er, 2 bb, 3 k. Nats still trail, 3-1, after four.

2:44 p.m. -- Mock can't get out of the fifth inning. Lost all command of the strike zone, issuing three walks this inning (he's got five for the game). The bases are currently loaded with two outs, Brian Barden at the plate and Jason Bergmann in to get out of the jam. I'll post Mock's final line as soon as the inning is over, since he's responsible for all three baserunners.

2:48 p.m. -- Bergmann gives up a two-run single to Barden, then an RBI single to Volstad (who is 3-for-3 today!), with another run scoring when Nyjer Morgan's throw to third gets away and neither Ryan Zimmerman nor Bergmann chases down the loose ball. It's 7-1 Marlins, and Garrett Mock's final pitching line is not pretty: 4.2 ip, 7 h, 6 r, 5 er, 5 bb, 3 k.

2:55 p.m. -- Speaking of poor pitching performances ... Jason Bergmann faced six batters this inning and allowed singles to the first five. Marlins now lead 8-1 after five.

3:17 p.m. -- Mike MacDougal's return to the Nationals was not exactly spectacular. The hard-throwing reliever served up two doubles in the sixth and allowed a run to score on a wild pitch. Looks like he could use some work with a pitching coach. Marlins lead 9-1 after six.

3:49 p.m. -- So much for Cristian Guzman playing second base today. Guzy is out of the game, replaced at shortstop by Eric Bruntlett. But Michael Martinez (a minor-league call-up for the day) is now at second base. Adam Kennedy, however, is playing first base for the first time all spring. For those wondering, the Nats trail 9-2 in the bottom of the eighth.

4:12 p.m. -- Despite a spirited rally in the ninth, the Nationals could not come all the way back. Marlins win, 9-5.

4:39 p.m. -- OK, I made a mistake. Cristian Guzman did indeed play one inning at second base today, the seventh inning. This occurred while all of us reporters were in the clubhouse talking to Garrett Mock. By the time we got back to the press box, Guzman was already out of the game and replaced by minor-leaguer Michael Martinez. Riggleman said he wanted to make sure Martinez (and several other minor-leaguers called up for the day) got a chance to play. Guzman will start at second base tomorrow as planned.


peric said...

And trades ... have to wonder about trades ...

Bas said...

Yesterday's game will not me made up, right?

peric said...

Still finding is strange that will all the younger arms stacked up in AAA and AA Riggleman goes with two guys whose age probably averages out to the mid-40's who are signed to minor league contracts. Riggleman isn't kidding when he says that he finds it hard to change. I'm not sure that is all that good for the Nats.

1stBaseCoach said...

shouldn't they be giving Guzman playing time at 2nd before the season gets underway?

peric said...

Yeah, 1stBaseCoach, but remember Riggleman finds it hard to change so of course he is going to put Guzmman at short as much as possible in order to avoid offending him. Sheesh, is this a major league ballclub or an old boys club? I am beginning to wonder?

Especially with the Dukes deal. Something is odd with Riggleman. He behaves as this is a contender and not a rebuilding team? If its going to behave like a contender I'd prefer Frank Robby as a manager.

Gusto said...

But Guzman is maybe more tradeable as a shortstop, if they'll eat 5 million. and he shows he can make a decent throw from the hole.

peric said...

Apparently Texas tried to work a deal but ended up going in a different direction. Texas is probably one of the best possible trade partners when it comes to prospects.

The discussion about Livan Hernandez getting left off the rotation list and then added later kind of lends "fuel to the fire" that Rizzo and his staff are having some heated arguments and strong disagreements with Riggleman and his coaches. To be expected at this point before the final cuts.

Anonymous said...

Per MBL.com, this game is available via MLB Gameday audio.

greg said...

what are you talking about peric? who's the second old guy signed to a minor league contract that you think riggleman is putting in the opening day rotation?

lannan, marquis, stammen, and livo are the first four guys (livo is old and on a minor league contract). who's the other guy you're talking about? the other guys in contention are marten, olsen, and mock. marten and olsen are 27, mock 26 (soon to be 27).

Sunderland said...


I'm of the opinion (uneducated and uninformed perhaps) that the Coste waiver claim will come at a cost, and that the Nats should have found a way to get some insurance at catcher without giving up a spot on the 40 man roster.

We need to make room on the 40 man for Livo. I think the obvious move is Flores to the 60 Day DL.

But we still have in camp several other guys who could (and perhaps should) make the club, who are not on the 40 man.
Miguel Batista
Eric Bruntlett
Willy Taveras

It seems to me that adding Coste is going to mean losing one of these guys. And Coste is only insurance. These guys could help us today.

I rarely quibble with Rizzo's moves. I don't like this one.

peric said...


Batista is the "spot" starter. The role originally envisioned for Stammen at the beginning of camp. Last I looked Batista is well over 40.

Anonymous said...

"Last I looked Batista is well over 40."

Then you should check again, as apparently he is aging in reverse. He's down to 39 now.

peric said...


Shouldn't Wang fo on the 60 day DL? There is no way he is that far a long.

I'm not sure I see any advantage (for a rebuilding team) of having both Livan Hernandez AND Miguel Batista (both probably well over 40 unless you believe Livan's age). You've already got Capps, Bruney and Marquis for your seasoned vets.

And I don't think this is Rizzo. This smacks of Riggleman.

From #2 on Kim Ng's 5 things you should know about trimming an MLB roster:

After camp we take 32 to 35 guys back for exhibition games in LA. Some are for protection, some are for injuries. Others are ones we haven't made the call on yet. In the past, we've cut guys just hours before opening day. Before anyone gets cut I talk with Ned Coletti, Joe Torre and some coaches and scouts. It can get heated, but everyone knows we're taking a long view. Camp isn't just a tryout. Its a way for use to see who we have waiting in the wings to step in.

Except for Desmond I'm not sure we're seeing that?

Paul said...

Miguel Batista is 39.

peric said...

Batista is from the DR. You know "smiley" land? Are you sure you want to believe his age?

Mark Zuckerman said...

Sunderland: You do raise an interesting point. Here's how I look at it: There are as many as four non-roster invitees who could make the 25-man: Batista, Hernandez, Taveras, Bruntlett. There are two players currently on the 40-man who could easily be put on the 60-day DL: Flores and Ryan Mattheus (still recovering from TJ surgery).

So the Nats are going to have to clear at least one more (maybe two more) spots on the 40-man. Some possible names: Collin Balester (could be outrighted and not claimed by anyone), Juan Jaime (dealing with elbow tendinitis, though I haven't heard lately what his status is) and maybe Scott Olsen (though if they're going to do that, they'd have to release him by tomorrow to avoid paying his full $1 million salary).

Definitely some intriguing questions the club is about to face.

peric said...

They both look older than me ... (Hernandez and Batista)

Mark Zuckerman said...

Oh, and Peric: I don't believe Wang will go on the 60-day DL, because then he couldn't return until the first week of June and the feeling is that he can be ready sometime in May. Now, perhaps they'll have to put him on the 60-day just to be safe. But ideally, they'd only put Wang on the 15-day DL.

peric said...

Mark, they may also decide to cut Atilano or Chico. Given a choice between Atilano, Chico and Balester I would definitely choose Olsen. But between the aging Batista and Hernandez and the same guys? I'm not so sure.

peric said...

Looks like they may have to make the call on Wang sooner rather than later in order to make up the 40-man. I still think there has to be some sort of trade in the offing.

Doc said...

Guzman starting at SS to-day! Why? So he can get used to the position? Or maybe he's trying to make Guzy feel better about losing the SS job. BB managers (some of them) are really good at just tinkering/pussy-footing around. They need to take a page or two from football coaches, or maybe even hockey coaches.

Jaxpo Nat said...

@peric - on the one hand you seem to approve of signing veterans (such as Coste) as "mentors," yet on the other hand you demand we rebuild and apparently define that as having the 25-man roster consist entirely of near-rookies. Teams can rebuild and have a few old guys mixed in to "ground" the team.

Having said that, I don't think this team is in true rebuilding mode, a point Harold Reynolds often makes about the Nats on MLB Network. We are sort of half rebuilding Zim, Morgan, Desmond, Lannan, Stammen, Mock), but still trying to plug in enough veterans (Dunn, Willingham, Kennedy, Pudge, Livan) to sell tickets. Not sure where this will leave us. On the flip side, I do not like what the D'backs did a couple of years ago when they went almost entirely young and many of them floundered. You need a mix, we're just a little too weighted to the retread veteran side for a team in the 6th year of "the plan." (are we still on "the plan"?)

peric said...

@Jaxpo Nat, my impression and you can correct me if I'm wrong, was that they signed Marquis to serve as a veteran stabilize and mentor for this rotation. Why then do they also need Hernandez AND Batista when both Martin and now Olsen appear to be pitching just as well?

Yes, Batista and Hernandez IN Sryacuse where Coste is going to land makes sense. It would be good to have some "mentors" in Harrisburg as well.

Finally, catcher is very weak depth wise. After the aging IRod and Nieves was Solano. Now there is Coste. Not great but somewhat better. And let's face it Nieves would be a AAAA or lifetime AA were he not a catcher.

peric said...

Let's see you have Marquis, Lannan, Capps, Bruney, we have to assume Walker, Burnett. That's SIX out of ELEVEN pitchers. Then you add in Batista AND Livo that makes EIGHT out of ELEVEN pitchers who are seasoned. Where is the space that should be allocated for the prospects?

You can go too far in other direction as well. In other words a team that Riggleman was on: Seattle Mariners 100 million dollar payroll losing 100 games.

Knoxville Nat said...

And sometimes you play someone like Guzman at SS even when he has been told he is not going to be your regular just so you can showcase him to another team that has an interest (in a trade) but a concern as to his physical condition.


I think Riggleman puts more stock in his veterans because of a track record on what they are capable of doing versus what he thinks a young guy might do. Mock has been inconsistent of late, Martin hasn't impressed and Olson has had one good outing. Livo has been consistent in ST as well as a career innings eater. Batista is the long guy in the BP for now and remember Riggs had him in Seattle and is a known quantity.

Anonymous said...

No XM broadcast today. Only XM games available for the Nats til reg season begins will be thursdays tilt against the Mets and the Saturday game with the Red Sox. JTinSC

Jaxpo Nat said...

"Why then do they also need Hernandez AND Batista when both Martin and now Olsen appear to be pitching just as well?"

This sentence is where I would disagree. Pitching just as well? Really? Based on what, a few weeks of spring training? I don't pretend to look at spring stats and be able to evaluate these pitchers as well as professionals trained to evaluate them, not just in games but in bullpen sessions. No, I don't agree with the above statement at all. Last year it appeared that Shairon Martis was "pitching just as well" as anyone this year, but we all know how that worked out.

K.D. said...

This picking up Coste has me wondering, does Pudge have a no trade clause? Not anticipating anything, but when the Astros were falling out of contention, guess who arrived? Of course Pudge does have a two year contract this time. Just sayin....

Anonymous said...

Who's gonna bat second once Guzman takes a seat on the bench?

alexva said...

Another double by Zimm in the first, hitting a cool .408

peric said...

@Jaxpo Nat,

"No, I don't agree with the above statement at all. Last year it appeared that Shairon Martis was 'pitching just as well' as anyone this year, but we all know how that worked out."

That was last year when THE ENTIRE bullpen was made up of prospects. And except for Cabrera so were the starters and middle relief until they started to sign vets like Beimel and Vilone.

Look at that list. You don't populate most of your bullpen with veterans. Adding in JUST ONE starter so far (Stammen) that could be considered a prospect because as you said he had a good spring?

I don't care what your source says this team is rebuilding. Attempting to build from the farms out to the MLB. Small market model. Defense first and pitching. I don't see a combo of Henandez and Batista being any more effective than JD Martin, Olsen, and Mock. So, I disagree.

Mark Zuckerman said...

Anon: If Guzman's not playing, sounds like Riggleman will go with either Harris, Kennedy or Desmond as his No. 2 hitter. My guess for Opening Day is Harris.

Anonymous said...

As of 1:43, the game is now finally available via MBL Gameday Audio.

HabsProf said...

Interesting piece in the Wall Street Journal last week - they named the "All-Mauer" team. This is the best team that could be fielded for Joe Mauer's annual $23 million salary. Adam Kennedy made the list with his $1.3 million salary and 1.7 "wins above replacement value". The interesting thing is that he made the team as a 3rd baseman.

Here's a link to the original article.


nattaboy said...

Reasons to start Guzman at short today:
-build trade value (as noted)
-the guys only had what, one day taking grounders at second? Waiting just a little until he has some coaching and doesn't develope bad habits makes sense to me.

I'd like to continue to stick up for my boy Christian Guzman. I don't think Riggs is going out of his way not to offend a sensitive veteran or that Guz has a bad attitude - look at the way he took the news that he wouldn't be starting. Very professional no drama whatsoever.

Yes his batting average plummets when he's dropped - but why assume that's because he's sulking or selfish? It would be better if that didn't happen, but I'm sure he's not the only player in history with that trend and I'd bet the way he's pitched, who's behind him, and outs/runners situations have more to do with it.

He's always been very nice/funny to me and other people I've talked to who went after his autograph, and the guy is a piece of Nationals history. It seems like there's been way too much hate.

That being said, they made the right decision going with Desmond and it would be best for the club if we could trade him (shouldn't the Nats offer to eat a lot of his salary? it's not like our payroll is sky high)

Anonymous said...

Mark - Bergmann has not pitched very well this spring at all, any thoughts of cutting ties with him!?

natsfan1a said...

I've never had the opportunity to meet Guz, but I'll join nattaboy in sticking up for him (though I also agree with the Desmond move). I was never one of the Guz haters back in the day, and I'm not going to turn into one now.

Anonymous said...

Always good to end the Spring by laying an egg like this one.. Have to imagine Mock won't be the #5 starter. Not that JD Martin or Olsen have shown much either. Hopefully Olsen continues to stregthen his arm before they need him April 11 (or whatever the day is)

Anonymous said...

Meant "Have to imagine Mock WILL be the #5 starter" - since he hasn't shown much lately and he has been so eratic overall

Jeff Wang said...

Don't cut ties with Bergmann, send him down. Who's gonna claim him?

JayB said...


Ladson's Box has Guzman going into the game at 2B....did he refuse to take the field?

nattaboy said...

In regards to Batista/Hernandez/Vets vs. Martin/Chico/prospects:

I 100% agree with Jaxpo that the former crew gives us a better chance to win. I just don't see Martin, Mock, Chico, Ballestar, or whoever you'd like to see on the 40-man mowing down the Yankee sluggers like Livo just did. I know that's just 1 spring game - but not like any of the kids will match his consistency, either.

Last year in a chat I asked Boswell how good all our young starting pitching really was. He ran a lot of numbers and the general response was "not that good". There's ZNN and SS of course, and now Stammen looks like a major league 3rd starter. After that? I don't think anybody else (maybe Atilano) projects to be any kind of star.

Yes there's something to be said for giving young guys a shot. But isn't that what we did all last year? As a team trying to improvethere's no reason to reserve 2 or 3 rotation spots for unlikely stories of farmgrown success. Start with your best rotation and let the young kids crack the lineup if they force the issue (like Strasburg).

Of course central to the debate is how close you think the Nats are to competing. I, like the front office and Z-man, don't think they're far. Even if they are though, it doesn't make sense to keep trotting out mediocrre prospects in the name of rebuilding. The next steps are calling up our best young studs and adding a couple pieces such as right fielder.

Wow. I hope nobody fell asleep on their keyboard...

Mark Zuckerman said...

JayB: Must be a mistake. Guzman never was at second base, never was asked to go to second base.

peric said...

Riggleman lied then?

peric said...

1:45 a.m. -- Though Cristian Guzman is starting at shortstop, manager Jim Riggleman said he'll move to second base for at least a few innings today. Guzman also is slated to start at second base tomorrow against the Cardinals.

Mark Zuckerman said...

OK, I made a mistake. Cristian Guzman did indeed play one inning at second base today, the seventh inning. This occurred while all of us reporters were in the clubhouse talking to Garrett Mock. By the time we got back to the press box, Guzman was already out of the game and replaced by minor-leaguer Michael Martinez. Riggleman said he wanted to make sure Martinez (and several other minor-leaguers called up for the day) got a chance to play. Guzman will start at second base tomorrow as planned.

JayB said...

Thanks Mark....Riggs is either the biggest push over I have ever seen as manager or the nicest person or both....I played 2 innings my in 72 games my first year in college...I watched Roger Clements and Greg Swindle and Spike Owen all freshmen at Texas from the bench....our manager was not interested in playing guys for the sake of making the bus ride worth it you had to earn time!

greg said...

you know, there's a little value in letting the minor league guys get an inning or two in a spring training game. especially if you pulled them away from other opportunities to be playing on the minor league fields to sit on your bench. i don't see that as being a "pushover."

peric said...

Mike Daniel played in right. He is another possibility there if they decide to put Bernadina somewhere where he will pay every day and not ride the bench. Not sure why they keep bringing this guy Michael Martinez in? Instead of other guys like lombardozzi? He like the most of the others they have been throwing in there are international signings. Not sure what that means or doesn't.

Daniel is the first that makes sense other than Michael Burgess. If they happen to send Detwiler to Harrisburg they would then have six first round draft picks in Harrisburg.

JayB said...

Guzman is going to be in MLB games next week at 2B....now is not the time for AA guys getting an inning....Yes it was stupid not to put Guzman at 2B last September but now they have to get him ready.

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