Thursday, March 09, 2006

Culling The Herd

Going into spring training, one of the biggest issues facing the
Nationals was that the number of guaranteed contracts exceeded the
number of roster slots available. Half jokingly, I said that Bowden
is probably secretly hoping for injuries to make the tough decisions
for him.

If he really did think that, his wish has come true. Everyone's hurt
or sore, and some players we were counting on are probably going to
start the season on the DL, freeing up a spot or two for some of the
guys on the fringes.

Robert Fick: The bone chips he had removed from his elbow were probably
going to hurt his chances of heading north anyway. Now that the
swelling isn't subsiding like it should, it's almost automatic. The
question now becomes whether the Nats risk it with Matt Lecroy (who's
shown a propensity to miss popups behind the plate) as their only
catcher. I have a hunch that Frank's going to win out, and Wiki
Gonzalez or Mike "Girl Burner" Difilice is going to survive the cut.

Jose Guillen: Given the initial prognosis of three months of delay,
and even the amended assessment of 7-10 days, it's hard to see Guillen
being healthy to start the season. His wrist injury is the sort that
needs rest. And, as we've seen, rest is a concept as foreign to
Guillen as "Mike Scioscia is nice." Even before the surgery, he was
trying to overcome the Nats injury du-month, a torn labrum. He'll
need to rehab both injuries, get some swings in to fix his timing, and
be ready for the end of April. Guillen at 100% is much better than
Guillen at 70%. Look for Guillen's injury to save Michael Tucker's
well-worn hide.

Ryan Drese: Despite reports that he's healed and that he's able to get
his arm angle back up to the heights that magnify his power sinker, he
still has yet to throw a pitch in spring training, and there's no time
table for him to start. He's already two weeks behind the other
pitchers, and it can only go up for here. My darkhorse for the Loaiza
Memorial Reclamation Project, he probably won't be able to go until
May at the earliest. His injury probably slots Pedro Astacio in as
the five, and probably solidifies Rauch's chance of heading to

Joey Eischen: Eischen has yet to pitch as well, reporting tendinitis
in his shoulder. He claims that it's nothing, but it probably puts
him a bit behind schedule. Tendinitis is typically caused from
overuse, and it's quite possible that he did too much too soon. I
vaguely remember him attributing it to working out too hard (as in
lifting weights, and that sort of thing) in the offseason. He's
supposedly lost almost 20 pounds, which would back up that claim. If
he has to start on the DL, that definitely locks Rauch in, and gives
one of the outsiders a chance. Billy Traber? Kyle Denny?

Nick Johnson: Tick tock. Tick tock. No injuries yet, but I just
wanted to keep a space open for him. (Seriously, has anyone heard ONE
word about him this spring? Is he alive? A quick google
news search
shows no references to him other than discussions of
Lecroy of Fick backing him up.)


  • I don't think Drese or Eischen saves Rauch. They haven't ever been real high on the guy (and worse yet - he's not a Bowden pick up)

    I think that both Hernandez and Gryboski make the bullpen, and Rauch ends up fighting with Denney and Traber for the long relief role. Both of them have only pitched in three inning stints - which suggest starter not short relief.

    By Blogger Harper, at 3/09/2006 10:06 AM  

  • That's a bit of a projection from me, of course.

    I'm not completely sure that Astacio's going to be ready to start the season. He hasn't thrown a pitch yet. And while he supposedly worked in the offseason, it's going to take some effort to have him ready in three weeks or so.

    I guess they won't really need a fifth starter for the first two or three weeks though.

    I guess I can't see Bowden giving away another pitcher for free. Unless they package Rauch for god knows what, I think the almost HAS to come north. Of course with the pace we're on, injury will solve that problem.

    By Blogger Chris Needham, at 3/09/2006 10:11 AM  

  • Nick Johnson and Ryan Zimmerman took a half hour extra batting practice yesterday after the Cards Nats game. Mitchell Page is working with both of them. Zimmerman is attempting to perfect an opposite field swing and Johnson is trying to get his sweet stroke back. Johnson looks much trimmer than last season.

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 3/09/2006 10:54 AM  

  • Thanks for the update, Phil!

    I'm glad to see that NJ is alive! I know he's a spectacularly boring interview, but I haven't heard one word of him.

    I'm interest by Zimmerman. Pitchers seemed like they got to him in the final week or two. He's going to need to learn patience/pitch recognition. I'm not too worried about him, even if I'm not expecting him to outperform what Vinny did last season.

    By Blogger Chris Needham, at 3/09/2006 10:58 AM  

  • You sound co-dependent about Bowden. "He won't give another pitcher away for free. He promised me he wouldn't. He's changed!" Bowden's history is precisely the reason I think Rauch is gone. Break the cycle of abuse, Chris.

    By Blogger Harper, at 3/09/2006 12:02 PM  

  • Of course I reserve the right to do a complete flip-flop if Astacio pitches poorly today

    By Blogger Harper, at 3/09/2006 12:04 PM  

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