Monday, November 06, 2006

Victory Is Ours!

With the stroke of a feathered quill, Jim Bowden did what he's done 1.5 times in his 13 seasons as a big-league GM; he's put together a division-winning roster.

Sadly for Nats fans, the flag that'll be flying this October will be in Columbus.

The Nats haven't been able to deliver on a manager (latest: No Jewett, No Russell), but Kasten's promise to sign a boatload of minor-league free agents hath come to pass. 21 one of 'em.

Four of them were offered 'contracts' and added to the 40-man roster, protecting them from the Rule 5 Draft, and giving them a pretty solid chance of making the roster next spring.

  • You might know Tim Redding from such pitching staffs as the Houston Astros or the Portland Beavers. Redding had a promising start to his career with the Astros with a 3.68 in his first full season. But he lost effectiveness and batters started smacking him around while his homer rate skyrocketed. He pitched last season for the White Sox Triple-A affiliate, putting up a solid 3.40 ERA over the full season. Impressively, he upped his K-rate, and looks like he could be a solid 4th starter this year. Of course I said the same thing about Billy Traber... What's worrisome is that last year was his first solid year of pitching (majors or minors) since 2003. Did he change something? Or was it just a fluke. The batters will let us know in March.

  • You might know Joel Hanrahan from.... well, probably nowhere. Hanrahan was the Dodgers 2nd round pick in 2000, but he's never made it to the majors. Hanrahan has been held back by a lack of control (~5 walks per 9), and having the misfortune of pitching for Las Vegas, a notorious hitters park in a hitters league. He's had impressive K rates, and he's been decent about keeping the ball in the park. It just appears that he can't harness his stuff and control it enough consistently.

  • Josh Wilson is a right-handed middle infielder who played 10 games for the Marlins in 2005. He can hit for a little bit of average, walk a bit, rip a few doubles, but nothing in his record jumps out. His extra-base hit totals over the last few seasons are inflated by the parks -- Albuquerque and Colorado Springs are two of the highest parks elevation-wise in all of pro baseball. Baseball America (scroll to the very bottom) says that he's decent defensively.

  • Michael Restovich, whom I touched on this morning, is a right-handed corner outfielder. He's put up solid slugging numbers wherever he's played. But he doesn't really control the zone, striking out a lot without walking much. He's got a chance to be useful to the team, especially in a platoon role.


    As far as the rest of the guys, I'll let the press release do the heavy lifting:
    The Nationals also agreed to terms on minor-league contracts with right-handed pitchers Jermaine Van Buren, T.J. Nall, Colby Lewis, Felix Diaz, Eduardo Valdez, Josh Hall, Winston Abreu, Jim Magrane; left-handed pitchers Mike Bacsik, Billy White and Chris Michalak; catchers Juan Brito and Danny Ardoin; infielders Joe Thurston and Alejandro Machado; outfielders Darnell McDonald and Wayne Lydon.

    There are some interesting names there. Most of them, though, will play the year in Columbus, getting a chance only if they impress in Spring Training, or if injuries creep up. (IF!?)

    Just some quick notes:

    --Van Buren has the potential to be a surprise reliever. Check out the K rates. He stunk in a limited opportunity for Boston last year, but hasn't had a truly bad season since Rookie ball.

    --TJ Nall, like Hanrahan above, found the transition to pitching AAA ball in Las Vegas to be difficult. But he had decent success everywhere else with a solid K rate and decent control.

    --Colby Lewis has pitched quite a bit in the majors, mostly poorly for the Rangers. Lewis was solid for the Mudhens last year, and will likely anchor the Clippers' rotation.

    --Felix Diaz briefly pitched for the White Sox in 04, and he had a poor year in AAA last year.

    --I can't find a listing for an Eduardo Valdez, but there's an Edward Valdez who was signed by the Reds during Jim Bowden's tenure there. He wouldn't do something like that, would he? Blah stats, but, hey, he pitched for Potomac and Bodes vouches for him.

    --Josh Hall is another former Red, but he has a local connection; he's from Lynchburg. He held his own in his first crack at Triple-A last year, but he's never had the kind of control that'll allow him to have any sustained success.

    --Winston Abreu pitched for the hated Baltimore Orioles last year. He's got a live arm, striking out a slew of batters, but, like so many other minor leaguers with live arms, he's got about as much of a clue where it's going when he releases it as I do. Plus, he seems to be homer prone. Poor kid!

    --Jim "Not Joe" Magrane is a career minor leaguer. Too many homers. Not enough bats missed.

    --Mike Bacsik is a lefty who's pitched parts of four seasons in the majors. He appears to have decent control. And considering the park and league, his 2006 was excellent. Might he be this year's Micah Bowie? The Nats could use a LHP in the pen.

    --Billy White is a left-handed reliever who's never pitched about double-A. Lots of strikeouts. Lots of walks. He looks like one of those 40-pitch per inning kinda guys.

    --Chris Michalak is an old man (36!) who's pitched in parts of four seasons. A reliever in the minors until the last few years, he's been solid, if unspectacular. Based on his success and his low K-rate, I'd bet he's a pretty extreme ground-ball pitcher.

    --Juan Brito fills the Wiki Gonzalez memorial role, having bounced around the majors and minors. Brito has put up solid numbers, but, again, they're in a park and league made for hitting. Still, he's 27, and if he's going to have a career season, it'd be now...

    --Danny Ardoin is another minor league vet catcher. Even considering the league, his .338 average in '05 is impressive. Either he or Brito could be good insurance when/if Schneider goes down this year.

    --Joe Thurston is a second baseman with a solid offensive track record. Great things were forecast for him, especially when he ripped the crap out of Triple-A pitching as a 22-year old, but he regressed, and was never able to put together an elite season. If Vidro were to be traded, Thurston looks like he'd be a solid bench player.

    --Alejandro Machado is a middle infielder that Bowden had traded to the Boston Red Sox before last season. A decent contact hitter, he doesn't have much power or much patience, but he's got speed.

    --Darnell McDonald, a right-handed outfielder, only seems like he's been around forever. He's never hit much, which would be fine if he were a gold-glove outfielder. Is he? Damned if I know.

    --Wayne Lydon is a right-handed outfielder born in Fairfax. He's been a model of slap-hitting consistency, and his only chance at major league success would be as a 5th outfielder.


    There are some possible spare parts here, and some filler for the rotation. But nothing that'll get a Nats fan too excited.

    But if you're in Columbus, and you're not a buckeye, there's quite a bit to be excited about. Real, live, professional baseball players. Sure, there might not be an Mitch Jones here, but they've got Wayne Lydon! The Wayne Lydon!!!


    • You didn't mention that the Nats and MASN have shown Tom Paciorek the door. I thought he did a good job. I suspect that his habit of pointing out Nats batters' deficiencies on the air probably got him into trouble. Instead of firing him, the Nats should have hired him as their hitting coach.

      By Anonymous Anonymous, at 11/07/2006 6:40 AM  

    • Wayne Lydon? A toolsy OF in his late 20s? Sweet.

      By Blogger Harper, at 11/07/2006 11:16 AM  

    • Tom Paciorek doing a good job? The guy made Ron Darling look like Jon Miller. He was gut-wrenchingly bad. His number comment during a game was "Sheesh." The only color to describe that gem of color commentary is puke green. What a relief to know he will not be polluting the broadcast booth again next year.

      By Blogger Harlan, at 11/07/2006 1:26 PM  

    • I thought Paciorek's comments were insightful and homey. He blended well with Carpenter. Darling was too scared to say anything, thereby forcing Mel Proctor to carry the whole broadcast.

      By Anonymous Anonymous, at 11/07/2006 4:09 PM  

    • Anyone suggesting Darling was a better broadcaster than Paciorek needs to have their head checked. I thought he did a great job, understood the mechanics of literally every action on the field, and seemed to get along really well with Carpenter. Together, I thought they were an excellent local team. Especially when reminded during the payoffs how godawful schlocky and hyperbolic most announcing is, I'm very disheartened to hear he's leaving. The guy just seemed to know baseball.

      By Anonymous Anonymous, at 11/07/2006 6:26 PM  

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