Sunday, March 27, 2011

Nats vs. Marlins - 3/27/11

Photo by Mark Zuckerman / NATS INSIDER
The Nats face the Marlins today at Space Coast Stadium.
VIERA, Fla. -- It's perhaps appropriate (or unfortunate, depending on how you look at it) that the Nationals are playing the Marlins on the day they traded Nyjer Morgan, considering the lasting memory for many of Morgan's tenure with the Nats will be his bench-clearing brawl in Florida last September.

But that's now old news, so let's move forward. Ian Desmond, who will hit leadoff on Opening Day, is in the top spot in the lineup today. It's not entirely the Opening Day lineup, because Adam LaRoche is still resting his sore shoulder (he's scheduled to return tomorrow). Also, Wilson Ramos is behind the plate. (Ivan Rodriguez will be there Thursday.)

Ross Detwiler gets one last chance to pitch in a big-league game this spring before getting optioned to Class AAA Syracuse. The Nationals didn't want John Lannan to face a division rival this close to the start the year, so Lannan is throwing in a minor-league game today. In other rotation news, minor-leaguer Tom Milone will get to start tomorrow against the Braves, spacing things out so Jordan Zimmermann can get on a proper schedule and start Tuesday's Grapefruit League finale.

Updates to come...

Where: Space Coast Stadium, Viera
Gametime: 1:05 p.m.
TV: None
Radio: WJFK (106.7 FM), WFED (1500 AM)
Weather: Mostly sunny, 86 degrees, Wind 14 mph RF to LF
SS Ian Desmond
RF Jayson Werth
3B Ryan Zimmerman
CF Rick Ankiel
LF Michael Morse
C Wilson Ramos
2B Danny Espinosa
1B Alex Cora
P Ross Detwiler

CF Chris Coghlan
2B Emilio Bonifacio
LF Greg Dobbs
1B Wes Helms
3B Donnie Murphy
RF Scott Cousins
C Brad Davis
SS Osvaldo Martinez
P Adalberto Mendez
1:09 p.m. -- We're underway with a strike from Ross Detwiler to Chris Coghlan.

1:11 p.m. -- Nice top of the first for Detwiler. He struck out Coghlan with a high fastball, gave up a soft single to Emilio Bonifacio and then got Greg Dobbs to ground into a 4-6-3 double play.

2:14 p.m. -- Sorry for the delay in updates. I just spent the last hour trying to upload video I shot of Jim Riggleman discussing the Nyjer Morgan trade to the folks at CSN so they can use it on TV this evening. Assuming it worked, they should be able to post the video online in a little while, and I'll be sure to include it here. ... As for the game, it's currently 1-1 in the bottom of the fourth. Ross Detwiler has allowed four hits through four and will get a chance to come back out for the fifth. Jayson Werth provided the Nats' lone run via a sac fly.

2:33 p.m. --  Detwiler's day is done. He goes five innings, allowing one run on five hits, walking none and striking out two (though he did hit a batter). Sixty-five pitches, 44 strikes. He'll be sent to Syracuse soon, but you've got to believe he'll be the first starter the Nats call up when they need someone. Brian Broderick, trying to earn the last bullpen spot over Collin Balester now on to pitch the sixth.

2:40 p.m. -- And another 1-2-3 inning from Broderick, who now sports a cool 0.61 ERA this spring. You gotta think the Nats are going to keep the Rule 5 pick. At the very least, they'll try to work out a trade with the Cardinals to keep him in the organization.

2:45 p.m. -- Ladies and gentlemen: Michael Morse with his ninth homer of the spring, a bomb to right-center. That's nine homers and 18 RBI in 20 games. Not too shabby. What was shabby, however, was the Space Coast Stadium pa guy's response: "From downtown!" he blared over the loudspeakers. Actually makes you miss Jerome's relatively subtlety back at Nationals Park.

2:52 p.m. -- Make it 3-1 Nats in the sixth after Danny Espinosa singles, steals second, steals third without a throw and then scores on a wild pitch. Nice hustle.

3:04 p.m. -- Uh, I may have spoken too soon about Broderick. He came back out for the seventh and just allowed five straight batters to reach, with four of them scoring, and none of them making an out. Got yanked after serving up a bases-loaded triple triple. And that 0.61 ERA? Well, it's up to 3.07 all of a sudden. Marlins lead 5-3 as Doug Slaten enters to try to clean up the mess.

3:27 p.m. --  It's now 6-3 in the bottom of the seventh, the Marlins having scored another run while we were down in the clubhouse talking to Ross Detwiler. Detwiler was pretty happy with his performance this spring; he finishes with a 2.65 ERA and 13-to-3 strikeout-to-walk ratio. "I had to go out there and prove to myself first that I could compete here and I belong here," he said. "That was the first step. Now the next one is to prove it to everyone else." Detwiler knows he's about to be optioned to Syracuse, not because of his performance but because he's got options and Tom Gorzelanny doesn't. "There's five spots and six people," he said. "I can do the math. I know it's not a perfect game. Not everyone's going to finish the season as you'd like they would. I'll get my opportunity when it comes."

3:48 p.m. -- We go to the ninth, the Nats still trailing 6-3 and in serious danger of snapping their five-game winning streak. Drew Storen is on to pitch in a decidedly non-save situation. We'll see if he picks up where he left off his last two times out.

3:55 p.m. -- Storen allowed a two-out single to Greg Dobbs, but otherwise was very efficient. He needed only seven pitches (six strikes) to get through the ninth unscathed. That's three straight good outings for him. Last chance for the Nats coming up. They trail by three runs.

4:01 p.m. -- And the deficit is down to two after Alberto Gonzalez crushes an RBI double to left-center. Gonzo entered today hitting .365. (Have we mentioned he's available?) Showcasing!

4:03 p.m. -- That'll do it. No dramatic rally today. I've finally seen the Nats lose in person this spring. Final score: Marlins 6, Nationals 4.


Anonymous8 said...

Nice lineup, but it shows one more area of weakness which is LaRoche's backup and in particular a RH 1st baseman.

Cora at 1st makes less sense then Alberto Gonzalez.

Anonymous said...

They're still looking at Gonzalez, Cora, and Bixler. Its Riggleman so you have to assume ancient veteran Cora. Rizzo needs to see if he can trade Gonzalez for prospects ala Nyjer Morgan. Bixler is Syracuse's shortstop and sparkplug again.

JayB said...

Alberto will be traded in the next 24 hours. I finally think Rizzo understands....this team has to cut the kick me/we are a joke tag they have had for 5 years. Rizzo is going to war with people who he trusts to put team before I. All these vets will be traded by end of the season and next's on with the a team that finished above .500 for the first time and SS back to go with 2 Top of the rotation FA pitchers. This is playing out a year late but just as I would have expected from a real baseball guy like Rizzo.

Anonymous said...

At some point I expect we'll get to see Chris Marerro along with Adam LaRoche particularly if his shoulder issue continues to fester. No reason not to try the prospects ... better than using last gasp washed up veterans like Cora or Hairston there ... Morse could also be moved there as well but then you end up with left-handed bat in the outfield against a left handed pitcher which doesn't really solve the problem ... although Nix is an interesting possibility.

JayB said...

Marerro....not going to happen until Sept. Earn some respect from potential FA and Win....that is all that matters this year. Chris M types are going to have to prove they belong and are complete players in the Minors from her on. Zimm and the proven players are clearly tired to tryouts in the Big the fans are....BIG CHANGE is coming from past Nats teams and approaches.

BinM said...

Detwiler needs to show he can go more than 4IP without running into trouble today. He's up against a fairly mushy FLA lineup today; If he can't do it here, maybe he needs to think about a relief role going forward.

Mark'd said...

Chris Marrero makes sense at some point this season compared to over the hill guys.

On position players need a RH who can backup Laroche

Mark'd said...

BinM, that has been discussed here about Detwiler a dozen times and is a valid point I also so on MLB Network 30/30

Anonymous said...

What is happening to Bernadino? He was decent last year - so why no action this year?

BinM said...

Mark'd: At 1B, Morse should be the RH fill-in. When that occurs, Bernadina or Nix look like the probable fill-ins for the short-term solution.

This is part of why I'd rather see the team keep 5OF & 6IF, rather than keeping Stairs as a LHPH, losing someone like AGonz, Bixler, or Cora as a result.

Anonymous said...


Ankiel/Hairston is a wash and just about equals Guzman/Harris. Its Riggleman at his finest. Ankiel at least has an arm and his fielding isn't bad other than that he is very weak offensively.

Stairs is also one of Riggleman's veterans? He got hit by a batted ball and was out! That's athleticism!?

Marerro has made some dramatic improvements. He could back up and play part-time along with LaRoche at some point and provide a far better right handed bat off the bench.

Plus Lombardozzi and Corey Brown should appear on the big league roster at some point soon.

Anonymous said...


Ladson is reporting that the A's, Astros, Padres and Braves have serious interest in Alberto Gonzalez. You have to assume he too is gone in the next 24-48 hours with Cora, a Riggleman veteran, making the team.

We both know Bixler returns to Syracuse to be their shortstop.

Wally said...

I also think Gonzalez is gone. My guess is Astros.

I am completely at a loss to see Cora at first. They are going to have someone be the back up 1B, and shouldn't they be getting some reps? If it is Morse, give him some game time please.

I don't care if Cora makes the team, but if he or Hairston really is the back up, that is ridiculous. If Stairs, which is only slightly less ridiculous, put him in the ST game.

Doc said...

The Morse code for Michael is to hit any pitch that looks good for a HR! Like #9!

Anonymous said...

If it is Morse, give him some game time please.

Morse has had time at first base this spring.

Anonymous said...

Detwiler pitched a really solid game scattering five hits, 2 K's and no walks.

Anonymous said...

Is Danny trying to be leadoff? Got 2 walks and 2 SB today. Between him and Ian, who has the tools to be a better leadoff hitter?


Anonymous said...

Broderick implodes.

Anonymous said...

Is Danny trying to be leadoff? Got 2 walks and 2 SB today. Between him and Ian, who has the tools to be a better leadoff hitter?

Rizzo said "this is the way the lineup is now unless a player forces us to make changes" and then he was asked specifically about Espinosa. It'll likely end up Espinosa, Desmond, Werth before too long. And I expect both Morse and Ramos to hit before LaRoche and Ankiel.

JaneB said...

At the six ST games we saw, Morese ended up at first by about inning 7 in all but one of them. Looked to me like they were making sure he got a work out there. Broderick may have blown up but he still should be someone we keep hold of. And Bixler is terrific -- I understand he is the gun powder at Syracuse but I hope he gets a call up because he sure looked like he deserved it.

Anonymous said...

6-3 Fish...Balestar really deserves that roster spot

fpcsteve said...

Pardon my frustration with this issue, but it frustrates me to hear people criticizing Riggleman for playing the players Rizzo signed. Now that Morgan is gone, it seems that the hunt is on for the player who will symbolize everything that is wrong with the Nats this year. Apparently Stairs, Nix, Cora, and Hairston are the leading candidates for that dubious distinction. Riggleman didn't sign any of them.

Anonymous said...

Broderick's performance this spring reminded me of Clippard's last April when he was pretty dominant. Brian still deserves to be part of our bullpen.


Anonymous said...

Apparently Stairs, Nix, Cora, and Hairston are the leading candidates for that dubious distinction. Riggleman didn't sign any of them.

Choice between Stairs (signed to a minor league contract), Bernadina, Nix (signed to a minor league contract. Who really makes that choice?

Choice between Cora (minor league), Gonzalez, and Bixler (minor league) Who really makes that choice?

Platooning Ankiel/Hairston in CF instead of Bernadina? Even Nix? Who really makes that choice?

Double switching Morse out of a game in the fifth inning for Willie Harris. And they lose the game. Who made that choice?

Finding anyway possible to play NO WALK, LOWER OBP than Morgan Cristian Guzman to keep him in the game ... even right field. Annointing Guzman starting utilityman? Who made that choice?

Need I go on?

Anonymous said...

In other words fpcsteve there is a consistent pattern of type of old, washed up veteran signed and Jim Riggleman's decision making process. Rizzo is signing guys to meet Riggleman's criteria/requirements for the bench. I suspect they may even be guys Riggleman asked for.

fpcsteve said...

Ah yes, you know that for sure. And yes, the manager actually runs the club, not the GM. If you want to hate Riggleman and certain players, name it and claim it. Just say you hate 'em and be done with it. Oh, and your courage in signing in as anonymous is stunning. Well played.

Doc said...

Nats will pay a price (Broderick) if they don't put BallyStar on the 25 man!

Good that Broderick had a bad day in front of his Rule 5 team--maybe they won't want him back and the Nats can trade them some spare part.

JayB said...

not his rule 5 team...STL

Anonymous said...

And Bixler is terrific -- I understand he is the gun powder at Syracuse but I hope he gets a call up because he sure looked like he deserved it.

He probably deserves it now ... albeit I think Gonzalez has the superior glove to all reserve infielders and matches the starters ...

Think George Allen and his penchant for over-the-hill players. That's Jim Riggleman. So its Cora ... it was at the outset, even before ST started. Its 43 year old Stairs and Hairston ...

Maybe in a couple of years Bixler will be old enough.

Anonymous said...

Oh, and your courage in signing in as anonymous is stunning. Well played.

And Rizzo calls down into the dugout and tells Riggleman who to play? And Riggleman has absolutely no input? NO, it must be Davey Johnson?

I'm sure there is some committee like decision making when it comes to what is best for the club long-term. That I do believe.

But short-term is mostly if not all Jim Riggleman ... IMHO to make you happy. But believing anything else is naive again IMHO.

Anonymous said...

Gonzalez continuing to improve his trade value.

Anonymous said...

Oh, and your courage in signing in as anonymous is stunning. Well played.

And everyone has a "handle". Hmmm to make you happy perhaps I should make one called SunMyungMoon?

Anonymous said...

The Nats have to make the investment in Broderick. His upside is too good to overlook.
Concentrate on his 6th inning not his 7th. Ground ball outs. Low 90's sinker. Making the jump from AA to a major league pen means he will get beat up from time to time in 2011. Don't look for an impressive ERA at first. He needs to get on the starter track at some point but not this year. If he continues to progress at the rate he has shown he will be contending for the rotation in 2 yrs.

sjm308 said...


nice call out on which ever Anon it is. If he wants to hate Riggs thats fine and none of us will every change his mind but I totally agree that the 25 man roster will be chosen by a group of Rizzo/Boone/McCatty and yes Riggs and probably a couple of others. Now, how Riggs uses them is pretty much up to him.

Hard to believe there is still so much hate here. We have had a great spring, the team has made some decent moves and people still crush either Riggs, the FO or players. I am guessing that there will still be this kind of criticism when we are in the playoff hunt. People just have an easier time being negative/critical I guess.

Anonymous said...

Hard to believe there is still so much hate here. We have had a great spring, the team has made some decent moves and people still crush either Riggs, the FO or players. I am guessing that there will still be this kind of criticism when we are in the playoff hunt. People just have an easier time being negative/critical I guess.

Au Contraire @sjm308!

If this team were truly competitive, in a playoff hunt some of these moves might make sense? But picking a Cora and/or Hairston over a Gonzalez? Over a Bernadina? Picking a platoon of Ankiel/Hairston over a Bernadina? Picking a Stairs over a Bernadina? Picking a cup of "Coffee" over Colin Balester, Broderick, or HRod even makes little to no sense at this juncture. This team is still rebuilding. The #1, #2 starters are Livan Hernandez and Jason Marquis. No matter how you slice it that isn't good.

It would look better if it was #1 Zimmermann, #2 Gorzelanny, #3 Detiwiler. Just how many veterans does it take? Isn't there enough room on a last place team for potential talent in the form of top prospects? Tampa Bay apparently believes this is so and they are competitive? I realize the Nats do not have the top prospects TB does, but those they do have should be given some deference? Unless the plan is to flip most of veterans like Ankiel, Marquis, and Lannan for prospects at an opportune time. Then I will agree that it makes an abundant amount of sense?

I'm sorry but we "negative" types aren't the only one's making these observations?

Again from the Hardball Times [Brad Johnson] (An objective Source right?):

As such, a better question might be, "What five starting pitchers will pitch the most innings this season?"

Let's start with the pitchers who should have secure jobs. Zimmermann will be given every opportunity at the big league level as a player who is expected to slot in well behind Strasburg. Gorzelanny also has solid job security as a fairly stable, middle-of-the-rotation pitcher. Barring injury, those pitchers should have little trouble putting together a full season with the Nationals.

The more interesting options are Maya and Detwiler. Maya is an extreme command and control type pitcher whom the Nationals really like. The Cuban defector has seen little work in the States and could probably benefit from some time spent in the minors. Still, the Nationals are likely eager to give Maya the opportunity to mature into something more valuable than their current back-of-the-rotation veteran depth.

In short work this spring, Detwiler has been impressive. He's talked about finally feeling recovered from his previous hip surgery and scouts have indicated that they can tell. As the sixth overall pick in the 2007 Rule IV draft, Detwiler has the former prospect pedigree and raw skills to be an effective and reliable middle-of-the-rotation pitcher. If Detwiler maintains the poise that has made his early spring appearances so impressive, the decision makers in Washington will be falling all over themselves to find a way to get him in the rotation.

Anonymous said...

Hardball Times [Brad Johnson].

More pedestrian options like Hernandez, Marquis and Lannan need to watch their backs. None of that trio is likely to be a part of the next successful Nationals team and so management has little incentive to continue to invest major league innings in them. Some may be wondering about this conclusion with regards to Lannan. After all, 2011 is his first arbitration season, making him team controlled through at least the 2013 season. However, Lannan is an extremely pedestrian pitcher and as someone already earning $2.75 million in 2011, he is a likely non-tender candidate. All three are solid back-of-the-rotation pitchers, so look for the Nationals to ship one or more of them elsewhere.

Its NOT JUST we so-called "haters" or "negative" types. In point-of-fact Riggleman's approach and philosophy does not look like "the plan". It looks too much like more of the same which just hasn't been good enough.

sjm308 said...

See, this kind of post is what we need. I don't think anyone can be upset with you having an opinion but just spouting off about Riggs and his favoritism doesn't make sense.

Hard to disagree with the fact that we have 3 soft tossers in the starting 5. I would move Livan to long relief/ spot starter, try and make a trade for Brodrick and move him to the minors. I would keep Gaudin just based on what he has done this spring but as soon as either he or Coffey has a hiccup I bring up Ballestar. I think Marquis will prove valuable and if he does, he is excellent trade material in June. Lannan can either be an excellent #5 or also trade material, and that would leave us with Zimm, Gorzy, Detwiller and Maya plus prospects and a strong bullpen.
You and I disagree on Gonzalez's worth. I like Hairston and his versatility and while Gonzo is the best fielder between Cora and Bixler I don't see much else.
Looks like Bernadina will make the 25 as the 4th outfielder and I have always thought CF was not his spot. I like him in LF but Morse has won that battle.
Again, you have every right to be negative but just don't use flawed logic - no way Riggs goes to Rizzo and says sign me up some veterans and ignore the youth. It just doesn't work that way.
Go Nats!!

Anonymous said...

Again, you have every right to be negative but just don't use flawed logic - no way Riggs goes to Rizzo and says sign me up some veterans and ignore the youth. It just doesn't work that way.


Really, who is not using logic? Who is being naive?

Now we quote Adam Kilgore who asks the question "what about Gonzalez", who is young, who is the best all-around infielder defensively. Yes, over Cora and Hairston. And Bixler. And he is a right handed bat on a team with way too many left handed bats? And Matt Stairs gets the nod over Gonzalez? Who makes that call?

And still, it seems like Gonzalez may have a hard time becoming the Nationals’s utility infielder. **** As Riggleman pointed out the other day **** [HIS IDEA get it? , the Nationals brought Alex Cora to the team for a reason, and his spring has not dissuaded them from keeping him on the team – Cora himself has a .439 on-base percentage in 36 at-bats. They can only logically keep one on the 25-man roster.

Anonymous8 said...

BinM - Here's the issue with Morse playing 1st base to give LaRoche a day off when a lefty is on the mound. You then have Ankiel in CF and who in LF? The problem is this team has a very LH bench if you don't keep Alberto Gonzalez.

Cora, Nix, Stairs, Bernadina, are all LH bench candidates. Ramos is the backup catcher. Hairston becomes your only Plan B then.

Anonymous said...

@Anonymous8, good bet that Gonzalez could play there. But I would move Desmond to left field and Gonzalez to short or second (with Espinosa at short), plus Hairston in center field, Morse at first base. I suspect they might be better than expected defensively.

If Marerro had proven he could at least play left field (and perhaps that will be tried in Syracuse this year) there's a really good multiple purpose solution as it is a way to showcase either firstbase man for a trade, to gently introduce Marerro to big league pitching as they did with Morse, and perhaps it helps La Roche heal?

NatsJack in Florida said...

OK.... After reading through this thread and ignoring the usual suspects... I offer my take on the 2011 Washington Nationals... better known as the "W's" from now on.

Detwiler, Maya and Balester all will be on the staff by May 15th. I don't know for sure who they will replace but my first and only guess will be Coffey... the other two, I'm not so sure about.

I keep Alex Cora over Gonzo in spite of the need for a RH bat off the bench primarily because I do not consider Gonzo as a "bat". Plus, I want a bench role player that understands and accepts his role.

Marerro will be in Washington by the All-Star break (his glove work has improved that much) as will Flores. Pudge will either be traded or on the DL as 40 year old catchers tend to damage easily.

I keep Nix over Stairs (who signs 43 yo role players at the March final cut down, anyway?)And if it's a numbers game, I keep Benadina over Nix.

And this doesn't take into account any impending trades Mike Rizzo has in store for us.

By the way... I did thank him for the Morgan trade but had to inform him that I have two brothers and two nephews in Milwaukee so technically, he's still in the family. I'll be able to keep track of his antics from afar.

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