Monday, March 31, 2008

Send Outfielders! (And Maybe Some Arms, Too)

It's amazing how quickly problems like depth stop being problems, huh?

The Nats -- well, the fans, at least -- were worried about how Manny Acta would split ABs betwee Pena, Dukes, Milledge and Kearns. As Acta said at the time, injuries will sort it out. We just hoped that it wouldn't be at the same time!

Yesterday, Dukes was pulled from the game, and later added to the DL. His replacement is not another outfielder, but reliever Chris Schroder -- who probably deserves to be up more than Colome anyway. They didn't call up another outfielder, so now LF will be manned by some combo of Rob Mackowiak or Willie Harris (both left-handed hitters).

This weakens the bench a bit, in that now there are only 3 PH options: Young, Lopez and the other outfielder who's not starting. Edit: Why do I always, always, always forget about Aaron Boone? (besides the fact that he blows) With the way Acta runs the pitching staff, it could force him into a spot where he's going to need to keep a pitcher at the plate in a situation where he might not want to. Or it's going to force him to use his backup catcher in a PH spot -- something he's done in the past anyway.

Taken together, though, I wonder how much this reflects on Chad Cordero's injury status. A last-minute scratch from last night's game, he was diagnosed with tendinitis, which (to steal a line) means "he's hurt, but we don't know what's wrong." Usually tendinitis is just a sign of overwork and some rest cures it, but that's more with the forearm. This is in the shoulder, which is a bit more worrisome.

It doesn't appear that any of the beat writers have reported it -- a quick search doesn't pull up anything -- but some places are saying that he's had a cortisone shot, which isn't really a good sign either.

Cordero's velocity was down all spring, and it's an indication that he hasn't quite been right. Sometimes cortisone helps. Sometimes it doesn't. But given the Nats offensive needs (and the resulting 12-man pitching staff), there should be some alarm bells ringing today.


  • "The (Other) Boone" is also available off the bench. The only bright side is that if the Nats had to sustain a some semi-serious injuries the outfield and bullpen can absorb them more readily than any other segment of the team. Guess new-look Joel Hanrahan will be getting his audition sooner rather than later.

    By Blogger Nate, at 3/31/2008 11:54 AM  

  • You don't think Aaron Boone is a legit PH option? And I know this sounds borderline insane (and I am a Jon Rauch fan)but if Cordero's injury is more than a 2-3 days off kind of injury, maybe give Joel Hanrahan a shot to close a game or two.

    By Anonymous Jamon, at 3/31/2008 11:55 AM  

  • That's right. This is like the third or fourth time I've listed the bench options and completely forgotten about him.

    I really try to black that guy out, I guess!

    You're right about the pen. They'll be fine. I just worry about PH options and legitimate outfielders. We got into a lot of trouble last year when we ran out crap in LF for the first 2 months of the year.

    By Blogger Chris Needham, at 3/31/2008 11:56 AM  

  • This franchise reminds me of the injury cursed Wizards. Frank Robinson wiped out The Chief in 2005 with gross over use. He has never been the same since then and should have been dumped in 06, when he still had trade value.

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 3/31/2008 11:56 AM  

  • This is much ado about nothing. The Nats broke camp with an extra bench player because of Shawn Hill being on the DL so bringing up Schroder just rights the balance between pitchers and players.

    The question still is what pitcher will be sent down when Hill returns and what position player(s) will be sent down (or released?) when WMP and then Dukes return.

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 3/31/2008 12:01 PM  

  • Well, the hitter/pitcher balance was fine. 11/14 works. The 7/4 reliever/starter break down is a bit odd, but they have their reasons.

    I'm not worried about having enough arms, but enough competent bats, especially in left field.

    Neither Mackowiak or Harris should really be starting every day.

    By Blogger Chris Needham, at 3/31/2008 12:03 PM  

  • How many NL teams carry 14 position players? Not being snarky, I'm seriously curious. The 12 pitcher and 13 player breakdown was pretty standard I thought...

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 3/31/2008 12:13 PM  

  • In the NL, 11 or 12 is usually pretty standard. That changes as the year goes on.

    AL teams usually carry more pitchers because of the higher level of offense and because they don't PH as much.

    By Blogger Chris Needham, at 3/31/2008 12:15 PM  

  • That seems to confirm my feeling that Bowden basically punted on breaking camp. They couldn't decide what position players to demote or release and instead used Hill's injury to come North with an extra position player instead of carrying a 12th pitcher (if Hill was going to be out for any length of time Lannan would have been on the roster from day 1).

    Basically I think they will eventually carry only 13 position players, but there's no sense making a final move (or cut) until you have to. My guess is that either Chief goes on the DL or Schroder goes down when Hill comes back and that both Harris and Mackowiak will be gone when Pena and Dukes are both back. Carrying two 1B only guys makes the backup infield situation difficult since you need 3 backup slots for the infield you only have room for one backup outfielder and that basically has to be Dukes unless you want to risk sending him to Columbus and away from Daddy Day Care (ie Dimitri Young).

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 3/31/2008 12:43 PM  

  • The back up first baseman should be Aaron Boone, who can also play several other positions and has a decent stick. Signing the Fat Meat Hook for two years and $10 million was just like flushing the money down a toilet. He has no trade value and releasing him would be expensive and an admission of stupidity.

    By Anonymous phil dunn, at 3/31/2008 1:45 PM  

  • Of the OFers available on the Nats 40 man roster, the only potential option is Justin Maxwell. Since he has shown some pop, bringing him until WMP and/or Dukes return would not be a bad idea.

    Also, don't see anyway that the Nats unload both Harris and Macowiak when WMP and Duke return. With the Meat Hook essentially limited to pinch hitting duty, don't think the Nats can afford to give up the options that Harris and/or Macowiak provide.

    If everyone is healthy, I think one of (but not both) Harris and Macowiak will go, but would think that Aaron Boone would have to join them. Then again, Felipe Lopez may be dealt too.

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 3/31/2008 1:50 PM  

  • We can't deal Lopez to save a roster spot. If he goes we still need a backup middle infielder and there is no one else on the current 25 man roster that can do it. Likely Orr would be called up in that event.

    I think we're going to see some more shuffling of the deck in the coming weeks (maybe monts depending on injured players rehab time).

    I wouldn't be surprised to see WMP or Dukes go on a rehab assignment at Harrisburg or Columbus until JimBow can work something out - but for the life of me I don't know what that would be...

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 3/31/2008 1:58 PM  

  • What's the over?under on Alex Escobar getting a call up? Then, what's the over/under on him getting hurt?

    By Anonymous dh, at 3/31/2008 2:02 PM  

  • He's not with the franchise anymore. He refused the assignment to the minors and became a FA.

    I suppose they could pry him away from the dry cleaners he's working at though...

    By Blogger Chris Needham, at 3/31/2008 2:06 PM  

  • Ouch, poor Escobar. Of course he is probably home sick from work today after burning himself in a completely bizarre and improbably dry cleaning accident his first day at work.

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 3/31/2008 2:13 PM  

  • Maybe the Chief hurt himself "Christening" the Bullpen Saturday night in the cold weather.

    By Anonymous Sec 314, at 3/31/2008 2:42 PM  

  • Speaking of first, LMilz just hit his first Nats home run in Philly, a nice two run bomb into left field. I hope he slaps every single fan's hand as he rounds the bases.

    Also, Guzman continues to get on base by slapping silly singles, defying all logic that should have those hits finding gloves by now. We really ought to start a pool trying to guess which month his BABIP regresses to league average and his avg. tanks.

    Chico almost notched a quality start (3 R 5.1 IP), throwing more strikes than balls, but he's still having issues with first pitch strikes. It also looks like he's having trouble getting the ball away from left-handed hitters; he just seems to range from down and inside to the middle of the plate without trying to make them reach.

    Lo Duca got beaned in the hand by Myers in the first inning. Not sure if it was a revenge play for Utley last year or not, or whether it just got away from him. Either way, you won't see me shedding many tears (other than joy) and it gave us a free base.

    By Blogger Michael Taylor, at 3/31/2008 4:58 PM  

  • I hope he slaps every single fan's hand as he rounds the bases.

    Man, I knew that the CBP was small, but that's ridiculous.

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 3/31/2008 5:01 PM  

  • Almost forgot. Kearns and Johnson are having pretty good days as well. Johnson continues to clog up the bases, as usual. I hope Dusty Baker is sobbing softly in a corner somewhere. Kearns, meanwhile, has been cleaning up, driving in runs and generally making his fantasy owners very happy individuals.

    By Blogger Michael Taylor, at 3/31/2008 5:03 PM  

  • Either Kurkjian or Robothal said that when he asked Cordero about his shoulder, Chad said he felt something "pop" and got concerned.

    Now I'm concerned.

    By Blogger Bote Man, at 3/31/2008 5:38 PM  

  • Well at least the injuries are coming at our deepest positions. You're right though Chris, WMP and Dukes need to get back, losing them gives us too many holes in the lineup. Get Dmitri some nutrisystem and stick him out in left.

    BTW, awesome win today.

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 3/31/2008 6:08 PM  

  • Does Manny have the cajones to put Da Meat in left field after we get tired of Harris/Mackowiak tag-team? Or does that fall into the category of ... what's the word I'm looking for ... oh, yes, here it is ... "insanity?"

    By Anonymous Friend of STAN, at 3/31/2008 9:15 PM  

  • Let's put it this way...

    If you play Harris and Young there in left in parallel seasons, Young's team is going to give up AT LEAST 60-70 more runs than Young's team. I bet it'd be even higher than that.

    Dmitri doesn't have the range for first base. Can you imagine him in the outfield?

    By Blogger Chris Needham, at 3/31/2008 9:49 PM  

  • You're right, Chris. He'd be a complete liability in left, and would probably hurt himself and the team. I'm just giddy at being 2-and-0. Plus, Da Meat is a nice bat coming off the bench, as he proved today.

    By Anonymous Friend of STAN, at 3/31/2008 10:39 PM  

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