Wednesday, March 21, 2007

The Most Unkind Cuts Of All

Welcome to Washington Messrs Fick and Belliard. The Nats purchased their contracts, which is a silly way of saying that they were added to the 40-man roster. And you don't get added to the 40-man at this point in the spring unless you're coming north. No surprises there.

But to do that, the Nats needed to clear some dead wood off the roster, so they outrighted a few players. Outright is just a fancy way of saying they were removed from the 40-man. The wrinkle is that to do so, the player needs to clear waivers, so every team has a chance to nab them. But in the cases of Michael Restovich and Bernie Castro, they likely cleared easily.

They reassigned Josh Hall, which might be the first time I've heard of him.

But the surprising news is that they optioned Billy Traber to the minors. He'll start the year with Columbus.

It's surprising for a few reasons. 1) When they took him out of the competition for the starting rotation, they said that they liked the middle relief innings he could give them. 2) He's a lefty, and Acta has stressed that he would like two lefties in the pen. 3) He's actually performed in spring training.

While I don't think much of spring-training stats, he has a 1.80 ERA with a 4/0 K/BB ratio -- can't get much better than that.

It's interesting to compare the inconsistency of that particular decision with Bowden's tough talk about the outfield positions over the last week. But then again, it's the pitching staff, and he's never really concerned himself with that side of the ball.

Adding in the sure-to-be DL cases, and the Nats are down to 34 candidates. Traber's demotion likely makes Ray King a lock, and almost ensures that Rule-5er Lavelle Speigner (nickname, please!) starts in DC. It also creates a slot for Matt Chico (See, The PLAN! works!@!!!1!1).

Twelve (?) days, and we still have a bunch of Qs!

(Thanks to Federal Baseball for the heads up! -- Now endorsed by Sports Illustrated!)

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