Monday, March 28, 2011

Roster down to 26

Photo by Mark Zuckerman / NATS INSIDER
Roger Bernadina lost out to Matt Stairs and Laynce Nix for a backup outfield spot.
VIERA, Fla. -- The Nationals have trimmed their spring training roster down to 26, with only one decision left to make: Whether Alex Cora or Alberto Gonzalez makes the club as a backup infielder.

Today's moves: Roger Bernadina, Ross Detwiler, Collin Balester and Brian Bixler sent down; Chien-Ming Wang and Elvin Ramirez to the 60-day DL; Elvin Ramirez to the 15-day DL.

That means Matt Stairs, Laynce Nix and Brian Broderick have made the club.

Story on, which will be updated shortly with more details and quotes.


Tank said...

Please, Alberto Gonzalez. Genius or no, Alex Cora has been washed up since 2008.

phil dunn said...

Bernardina's demise is a total mystery to me. He must have run over Rizzo's dog. Keeping Grandpa Stairs over him is beyond belief.

Mark'd said...

Stairs over Bernadina gives little defensive backup.

phil dunn said...

Gonzalez is as good as gone too. He ran over Riggleman's dog.

Anonymous said...

@phil dunn - Don't worry Stairs' SS checks are due to start rolling out in a few months and Bernadina will get the call up.

Tcostant said...

I correctly predicted that Morgan would be heading to the Brewers for a warm beer. Now I am predicting that Alberto Gonzalez will be sent to the Padres for a bag of balls. Let’s see how I do.

Anonymous said...

I don't get it.

Nix can do anything Stairs can do, plus play great defense and run the bases. I would've cut Stairs and kept Bernadina.

Doc said...

BallyStar replaces Coffey in short order. Roster replacemnents and trades should continue to be interesting over the next few months.

Anonymous said...

Has anyone gotten an e-mail today regarding the RCR?
I heard one was supposed to come out today.

NatsJack in Florida said...

I still firmly believe this is just a matter of keeping all your assets until the dust settles from all the roster maneuvering that will take place in the next 48 hours.

Keeping Stairs AND Nix while using the final option on Bernadina??? I've said it before and I'll say it again. This roster is not deep enough to carry a limited specialist like Stairs.

But I've seen enough of Rizzo to know that there is sold reasoning for his actions.

NatsJack in Florida said...

"solid" reasoning

Theophilus said...

Wouldn't be surprised to see two trades -- Gonzalez and Nix -- before midnight Wednesday. Maybe both to Padres. Keeping Nix, I think, is a feint, to make other teams conclude the only way they will get him is in a trade. Frankly, I don't see why they didn't wait until the deadline -- unless they feel they need the extra 48 hours to make a deal (or two).

Will be most interested to see who gets on the plane to DC.

JD said...


Do you want Bernadina to sit on the bench and get 1 at bat a game and maybe start 1 game a week? if he's really a major league hitter then let him tear it up in Syracuse; I,m sure the Ankiel in center scenario is not etched in stone.

The real question is: 'can Bernadina produce offensively in the majors?' I think the jury is still out. I don't really see what Nix adds to the puzzle other than a veteran bat off the bench.

JD said...


Why would any one trade for Nix? guys like him are getting cut all across both leagues. I thinks that Rizzo really wanted some veteran bats off the bench this year after what we saw last year.

Theophilus said...

NatsJack --

I don't think there's any significance to using Bernadina's "last" option. If they kept him this year would they -- whatever his season turned out to be -- use the option next year in the hope he would drink some magical minor league elixir? No, this year, one way or another, is his last shot at the majors, at least with the Nats. Beyond this year he becomes either a solid major leaguer or another Justin Maxwell.

I think the real thinking is (A) he needs ABs every day; (B) Nix will be a short-timer (maybe real short), and/or (C) Stairs will be a second-half trade piece to another team who needs him more than you think the Nats do.

NatsJack in Florida said...

My attitude towards Bernadina is strictly from the defensive side. He is the better defender of the three, however you are correct about his offensive side. He's already proven on several occaisions that he can crush AAA pitching. He still has to prove he can be productive offensively at the ML level.

We'll see him back in DC soon. Maybe sooner than you think.

natscan reduxit said...

... glad to see my man Matt made the team to head north, but would rather have seen Roger chosen over Laynce. However, c'est la vie; I can't imagine Bernardina will be out of DC for a full season.

Go Nats!!

Theophilus said...

JD -- I don't disagree w/ you very strongly, just I have seen pieces elsewhere to the effect other teams were interested. And Kilgore insists Nix can refuse assignment, so I believe Nats are convinced they will lose him. I don't think he is "worth" keeping over Bernadina, per se, but there is little point in keeping Bernadina if he's only gonna be a pinch-hitter, defensive replacement or even a one-day-a week starter. One underlying motivation may be that Riggleman learned last year there's no gain -- and lots of disruption -- in trying to get 400 ABs for everyone who wants them. It looks like this year, except for CF and C, the starters are going to play 140+ games a year.

NatsJack in Florida said...

The only significance to his option was that he had it and they used it. You are correct in that this is his year to prove his worth as a ML player. He's significantly better at the plate than Maxwell will ever be but he certainly hasn't proven that he can be an everyday player either.

But then people were saying the same thing about Mike Morse 2 years ago.

DFL said...

Keeping Stairs on a 75 win team seems a little silly. Same with batting Werth second. Is Riggleman trying to limit Werth's RBI chances? Flores, Bernadina and Bixler playing every day at Syracuse is a good thing. All three will likely see time in Washington.

Anonymous said...

Theophilus said...
It looks like this year, except for CF and C, the starters are going to play 140+ games a year.

Add 1st base to this list...LaRoche just aint gonna make it all season. No Chance!

Theophilus said...

DFL --

The Nats beat the Cardinals last week because LaRussa out-thought himself and didn't want to pitch to Stairs. He could do that, or the equivalent, a half-dozen times a year.

If Werth in the 2-slot gets on base at the same rate as last year, that probably means 20 more opportunities -- minimum -- for Zimmerman, LaRoche and Morse to knock somebody in. Who cares who gets the RBI?

Anonymous said...

Like everyone else, I am surprised to see Stairs on the roster instead of Roger. I also understand the point of view that you do not want Roger to get 1 AB a game or something. Then again, you could use Roger at any OF position when that player needs a day or two off. Stairs on the other hand, can not play defense at all, at any position. He is solely used as a pinch hitter, which makes no sense for our ball club.

Glad to see Broderick made the club. Hopefully our bullpen can keep up their work from last week (except Sunday's loss).


Anonymous said...

Speaking of voices of negativity ... NatsJack, Theophillus, erock33 I wonder what you think of what Tom Boswell said in his chat today? He may be trying to be facetious, he may be trying to be a Philly Phan's reporter but he sure targets the Nats ship with huge broadside.

Calling battlestations the 22 inch battlewagon's guns are pointed directly at Rizzo, Riggleman and Werth:

– March 28, 2011 12:05

How nice of Jayson Werth to suggest that he should bat second for the good of the Nationals because he thinks they need somebody to get on base.

That’s probably just what Ted Williams would say: “Let me bat second. Hitting third is too hard. That’s the spot for The Best Hitter. Let me just bat second and ‘work the pitcher.’ Let somebody else drive in the 130 runs.”

Imagine Frank Robinson saying to Earl Weaver, “Hey, Little Weave, how about if I just move up a spot in the order and ‘set the table?’” Weaver would have said, “How about if you shut the hell up and let me manage.” But, of course, Frank would never have said it. He wanted to carry the load.

If they’d been giving out $126-million contracts in Mickey Mantle’s day, would he have said, “I draw a lot of walks. How about if I bat second and let Moose Skowron hit in the heart of the order and let him worry about driving in mass quantities of clutch runs. I’ll just stand on base and cheer for him.”

I can hear The Babe now: “Hey, skip, get Mark Koenig out of the No. 2 hole. I’ve got a hangover. I want to hit in the Rocking Chair today.”

Yes, that’s what they’ve called the No. 2 spot in the batting order for generations: The Rocking Chair. That’s where Werth wants to sit.

It’s the least pressurized of the top five spots in the batting order. Sometimes they put promising rookies there so they’ll get more fastballs to hit because the Heart of the Order is up after them.

The No. 2 hole is for guys who hit behind the runner to the opposite field. It’s for hitters who can “handle the bat” and don’t mind passing up a fat pitch so the leadoff can steal second base. It’s the spot for hitters who are good enough to bat up high but not so good they aren’t expected to “give themselves up” to move a runner from second to third with a ground out.

What on earth is going on here? There’s never been a No. 2 hitter in history that could hit the ball 475 feet like Werth sometimes can. Werth is smart __just enough to be dangerous. He comes from a baseball family. His grandfather is Ducky Schofield, who hit two home runs a year and sometimes batted second. What is this, ancestor worship?

You don’t get to reinvent the game just because nobody has the guts to tell the player, the GM and the manager that they’ve conspired to accidentally go nuts. Calling Scott Boras, talk these guys in off the ledge.

There’s a reason that Albert Pujols, Barry Bonds, Hank Aaron, Williams, Ken Griffey, Jr., and half of the other everyday players in the Hall of Fame batted third. Since the beginning of baseball time, it’s been identified as the perfect spot for the player who combines excellent on-base percentage, home run power, clutch temperament and, in a perfect world, some speed so you don’t clog the bases.

Tcostant said...

Wang was placed on the 60-day DL. Strange they didn't put him on the 15-day DL, this guy pitched games in the FCL late last year. We might have to accept that Wang may never suit up for a major league game for the Nationals.

Anonymous said...

– March 28, 2011 12:05
THOMAS BOSWELL -- continued.

In the Nationals little world, Werth may fit that definition slightly better than Ryan Zimmerman because he’s bit faster. But then Zimmerman has driven in 100 runs twice, while Werth never has, so Zimmerman might actually be the more logical No. 3 hitter.

But on no known planet do you pay $126-million for a free-swinging slugger who strikes out 150 times a year so that he can hit second. If your leadoff man has speed, it’s immediately neutered __for steals or hit-and-runs__ when you have a strikeout machine like Werth batting second. How can you “protect the runner” when you obviously can’t even protect yourself?

In December, Rizzo told his owner that Werth was the perfect man for the Nats: Worth the money. Ideal temperament, team guy, tough as nails. All true. Just one fly in the ointment: Wants to bat second.

Oh, there’s no problem with that, so cascading damages. Not much. If Werth hits second, that pushes Ian Desmond out of a slot where he hit .326 last season and finally found a spot in the lineup where he was comfortable.

Now, with Zimmerman moving up from cleanup to third, Adam LaRoche will have to hit cleanup (which he’s done) and Mike Morse (or somebody) will have to hit fifth __a 100-RBI spot on a good team__ and no Nats has any proven qualifications for the job. Against lefties, do you even want LaRoche hitting cleanup?

Here’s a thought. Maybe Werth wanted to underline how dumb it was to get rid of Adam Dunn. Because if you had Dunn, he could still bat cleanup behind Zimmerman, giving him a perfect security blanket, and Werth could phone the clubhouse and tell Riggleman where he wanted to bat that day and it wouldn’t matter all that much.

N. Cognito said...

If LaRoche ends up going on the DL and needs surgery, if it's bad ebough, or late enough in the season, the Nats just might have to go looking for a free agent firstbaseman this winter.

Anonymous said...

– March 28, 2011 12:05

Baseball has an internal arithmetic that never changes. Because the eighth hitting in a National League (no designated hitter) batting order is your worst hitter and because the pitcher can’t hit at all, the leadoff hitter has an amazing tendency to come to bat with very few people on base. Like, for instance, none.

The No. 2 hitter, who’s the natural heir to this lack of base runners, also has a great deal of trouble producing high RBI totals. That’s why the heart of the order is called the heart of the order. Nearly 150 years of baseball has given subtle hints __about as subtle as a sonic boom__ that your best hitters (you know, the ones you pay $126-million) bat third and fourth.

How many No. 2 hitters have led the league in RBI or runs produced (runs plus RBI, minus homers)? It’s so few, maybe zero, I’m not going to waste my time figuring it out.

What is this, Carl Crawford envy? The Red Sox pay Crawford $143-million __and he’s batted No. 1 or No. 2 4,000 times and No. 3 796 times, so there must be some magic in that spot in the order?

Crawford steals 60 bases. Crawford can’t hit home runs. That’s why Crawford can bat second for a contender but shouldn’t hit 3-4-5.

You guys have until Thursday’s Opening Game to change your minds. Then I start throwing water balloons.

N. Cognito said...

Boswell is a flip-flopping moron who constantly gets his facts wrong. He should have retired years ago.

Anonymous8 said...

When you walk Stairs then Riggleman better have a fresh starting pitcher not named Livan to pinch-run for him.

JD said...

This just proves that Boswell has no clue; using no thinking just :'it's always been that way' adage.
You only get RBI opportunities if someone gets on base in from of you; the Nats don't have these someone's; you can't extrapolate RBI numbers for a player from one team to another that's why it is now considered a basically useless stat by people who actually understand the game.

Paul said...

There is a strong movement a-brewing that states that a properly optimized batting order can help gain a team 5-15 runs over the course of a season (e.g. 1-2 wins). This approach doesn't quite shun old school thinking, but it comes close. I won't try to mangle all the details for you, but a key tenant to the principle is that you put high obp guys at the top of the order, and one of your strongest hitters in the 2-hole.

Anyway, that doesn't seem to be mentioned in very many mainstream articles about moving Werth to the 2-spot. I personally support this move very much... what do we have to lose?

Tcostant said...

Stop bashing Boswell, I always enjoy the way he writes, it's a lost art. He may have some rose-colored sometimes, but he is a pleasure to read.

JD said...


He may be a Pulitzer prize level writer but he doesn't have a clue about baseball.

Anonymous said...

I think keeping Stairs is a luxury for this team even though I like the guy. He reminds me of Smoky Burgess back when he was building a lifetime .286 average as a pinch hitter in 507 pinch at bats. But Old Smoky could still make a few games as a catcher even as he reached the end of the trail with the White Sox 1964-1967, back when I was listening to their games on radio.

NatsJack in Florida said...

JD, N.Cognito... I see your comments concerning something written by Boswell but since I NEVER read the self serving impostor and always skip over anything posted by anonymous, I can only concur with you. Sight unseen (or unread, in this case.)

Anonymous said...

Rizzo (and Riggleman) can change the BO anytime they want and Rizzon said that, in effect, the other day on the air. Like JD said, we need baserunners to get the RBIs. Boswell got himself an entire article based on thin air.

Wally said...

Boz is ranting. I don't think Werth is trying to duck the spotlight, just trying to help in whatever way he can.

Re: Nix and Stairs, I think Rizzo is trying to win as many games as he can right now, and he thinks Nix gives him a better chance. I doubt that he would do that if he felt Bernadina's upside was tremendous, but I also don't think he views Roger as more than a middling player. Time will tell.

Probably the same calculus with Gonzalez v. Cora, although I think he is underselling Gonzalez's glove. I believe Gonzalez still has an attitude problem though (or at least Rizzo thinks he does), which is also at work here.

Anonymous8 said...

After Boz was complimented here the other day he goes back to stupidity. Writers know that controversy gets more page views then saying kind words but of course I can't comment on Boswells intentions.

Harper_ROY_2012 said...

Baseball is a business, unfortunately, so guys with options like Balester and Bernadina provide Rizzo the luxury to moving them down and letting some veteran play the 1st half of the season and see what happens with the thought in his mind that if he can move Stairs, Nix, Coffey, heck even Ankiel before the trade deadline he might get some other pieces that the Nats organization may not have been able to fill through free agency or the draft. It is actually a brilliant plan!

JD said...

There are 2 stats which most baseball people now understand mean essentially nothing:

1) RBI's - because you are getting credit for work done by others which you don't control; that's why everyone on the Yankees has a ton of RBI's even people like Swisher who didn't have a lot of RBI's when he played for other teams.

2) Wins by starters - again you can accumulate a large number because you have a good offensive team and a good bullpen while haven't really done anything special or you can be Flex Rodriguez and pitch lights out all year and end up with a 12- 13 record. I think we are beginning to get liberated from these tired stats as king Felix did win the Cy Young.

Anonymous said...

I think Bernadina will benefit from playing CF every day in Syracuse, he still looks lost on many routine balls while making spectacular plays on some more difficult catches. He's not good enough defensively to play in CF in the majors. Which is not to defend keeping Stairs.

Anonymous said...

@Natsjack: but since I NEVER read the self serving impostor and always skip over anything posted by anonymous, I can only concur with you.

Here's the pot calling the kettle black and being awfully smarmy about it while he's at it.

Theophilus said...

I'm willing to give Gonzalez the benefit of the doubt on attitude, as he now says he will do anything to make the team. And last year must have chafed watching Guzman butcher multiple positions and fighting Willie Harris for ABs. He also knows he'll have no choice if he gets traded, and few choices if he gets cut. But I still think it comes down to who R&R think can help most in the late innings and the lack of run production is the killer.

Anonymous said...

Stop bashing Boswell, I always enjoy the way he writes, it's a lost art. He may have some rose-colored sometimes, but he is a pleasure to read.

I'm not sure I would characterize his glasses as rose-colored in this case @Tcostant? I also enjoy reading his soliloquies and proselytizing even when I violently disagree.

But the negativity in his tone what I endeavored to point out. Not many have faith in the current Nats roster as it currently stands nor in the strategies for its use going into the start of the regular season. Both fan and objective outside observers. None have voiced as forcefully and strongly as Boswell did in that chat ... not even Mr. P @Natsjack, Mr. ABM or JayB.

Neato Torpedo said...

It may be that Bernadina had options so Rizzo didn't, but I don't understand how this team, so vested in "future" can decide to endure a single season of Rick "Not the Answer" Ankiel in CF when they can take a chance with Bernadina. What's the worst that happens? A few losses? This isn't a playoff team.

I sincerely hope the Nix/Gonzales trade is what's coming. If Gonzales has figured something out, good for him. If it's just a flash... good for us.

And Boz is ridiculous. Hope springs eternal, and that's nice. But Werth's suggestion to bat 2nd is one of the smartest things to come out of the damn front office this year. GOOD FOR HIM.

Anonymous said...

Looks like this almost happened but was pulled back ...

"Nats acquired RHP Erik Davis & cash considerations from the San Diego Padres in exchange for INF Alberto Gonzalez"

JayB said...

looks like it went down just a I said it would....Rizzo has no intention of being embarrassed again...this team is all about winning as much as it can this year and then trade all the vets for whatever it can get by August and bring up who has earned it in AAA....I like this approach a lot.

Anonymous said...

Tremendous deal on the face of it if Rizzo could have pulled it off!

Anonymous said...

Looks like the deal is official and the Nats are now at 25 on the roster.

Erik Davis a right handed starter out of Stanford 13th round pick in 2008: 133 K's against 48 walks A+->AAA leap in one year. K's/9 between 8 and 12.

Syracuse is getting really crowded with starting pitchers. Really, really crowded.

N. Cognito said...

I refuse to link to or read the following "writers:"

I only read/peruse what they write when someone posts their dreck on a message board.

A DC Wonk said...

I agree with the consensus here on Boz. He writes great, but his knowledge of modern baseball theory seems pretty spotty. Last week's column was great. The rant on Werth today was ridiculous. Yeah, Werth will get fewer RBI's, but he'll make up for that by scoring more runs, duh. And trying to prove the point by comparing him to Ruth is silly.

Like some others here, I applaud the out-of-the-box thinking by trying Werth in the 2d spot. The fact is, the Nats just don't have a leadoff batter -- and this is a good out-of-the-box idea to try to compensate for that.

Theophilus said...

N-Cog --

Hate to break it to you but Kornheiser doesn't write for anybody anymore. But whaddya think of the new chick at the Washington Times?

N. Cognito said...

I haven't read any of her stuff.

sjm308 said...

I really like this trade. We get another arm and I agree that all the vets we have kept, if they play well will be out there for trade value in June/July. Stairs is an interesting case, he seems to be a great clubhouse guy, has already helped Storen and we have never really had a guy like him on this club. I realize Rizzo wants as many wins as possible and quite honestly Stairs might help more then you think. Just the threat of him in the on deck circle could change an opposing managers mind on a pitching change and the guy is a great pinch hitter as well.
Also like Bernadina playing every day. He had an option and its stupid not to use it. Nix will be fine, maybe not as good on defense but he won't hurt us.
Mark & Group: Who do you think comes up first? Bally, Detwiller or Bernadina??

Go Nats

Anonymous said...

Regarding Boz's "rant" on his chat earlier today:

He made clear that:

(1) It is NOT an article for the WaPo.

(2) It is an article he would write if he were one of the hard-@$$ sportswriters for a Philly paper.

(3) He closed by saying that he would never last as a sportswriter for a Philly paper.

I would agree that this allows him to have it both ways, but it is only fair to mention the caveats he included along with the Philly-style "rant".

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