Luke Erickson

Luke Erickson is a season-ticket holder for the Potomac Nationals, but makes a point of seeing games in Hagerstown and Harrisburg at least once a summer. When the PNats are away on the weekend, Luke finds a minor-league game somewhere to watch, and generally attends 70-80 baseball games a year up across several states. A former sportswriter with newspapers in Massachusetts and Oregon, Luke lives in Western Fairfax County with his wife and two sons.

Mar 142012
 

First off, the latest transaction post from Baseball America has just one previously unreported item. Justino Cuevas has been released by the Nationals. The 23-year-old batted .281/.304/.432 last season as a reserve for the Hagerstown Suns and Potomac Nationals. No further details are available, but in my opinion, this move may be to his benefit and give him a chance to hook on with another organization while Spring Training is in full swing.

Secondly, the City Council of Winchester bowed to public pressure and unanimously voted down a measure to transfer land to a redevelopment agency, effectively killing the plan to lure the Hagerstown Suns.

This is good news for the folks hoping the Suns will remain in Hagerstown, but as written when this story first surfaced in the dead of winter, this is par for the course in the minors. Ownership groups routinely play one city off another in hopes of a better deal, a better facility, etc. It’s their right because the team is, after all, a business. Municipalities also have the right to say no, because it’s their duty to decide what constitutes a fair use of public monies.

In essence, the situation has returned to where it was before Winchester made its pitch. The question is whether the three players in the game (Hagerstown, the Suns’ owners, and the Nationals) are willing to work towards extending the PDC sooner vs. later, as one of this site’s contributors hopes.

Mar 142012
 

With roughly three weeks to go, we’re hitting the halfway mark of Spring Training, with playing time for “our guys” dwindling with each passing game. Last night, four of ‘em saw game action in a 6-3 loss to Detroit.

  • Steve Lombardozzi pinch-ran, drew a walk, and scored a run as a sub for Danny Espinosa. He finished the night at the plate with a “at’em” ball to short
  • Tyler Moore went 0-for-2 but did no strike out while taking over the DH duties from Michael Morse. His spring average is still a robust .353, but he has yet to appear anywhere but 1B or DH
  • Eury Perez flew out to LF in his lone AB and played in RF on defense, making two putouts in his first inning on defense
  • Jhonatan Solano grounded out to 2B in the top of the 8th and caught the last three innings in relief of Wilson Ramos

It’s another night game with the Nats heading inland to take on the tenants at Team Rodent, a.k.a. the Atlanta Braves. The game will be broadcast on the MLB Network and can be heard on 106.7FM

Mar 132012
 

Rather than bury this in the comments, I’d thought I’d make this a post unto itself, which is perfect because with a night game, there might not have been a new entry today (except for something I’m saving for either a rainy day or next week’s off day ;-)

Anyway… another factor to consider with the Corey Brown/Eury Perez discussion is the new CBA. Here’s the link from BA, but in a nutshell: players with six years of MLB service that sign minor-league deals are now entitled to both a $100K retention bonus and a midseason escape (June 1) clause unless teams release them before March 30.

Essentially, this is codifying what has been done with veterans for years. In theory*, it’s giving these players a better chance of hooking on elsewhere in the majors by making it more expensive for teams to stash them in AAA. According to the article, three Nats in camp fall into this group: Rick Ankiel, Jason Michaels, and Chad Durbin. Like all things CBA, what remains to be seen is how teams will react to the new rules. *Why do I get the sneaking suspicion that like 20 of these 30-odd players will hit the streets on the same day?

As Zuckerman noted yesterday, Ankiel seems nearly certain to rise above the fray of OFs bidding to join Jayson Werth and Michael Morse, but does Roger Bernadina necessarily have an additional edge (aside from already being on the 40-man, being younger, and cheaper) by not costing the team extra? Probably, given the presumption that it comes down to “The Shark,” Michaels, and Brett Carroll battling for the fifth OF slot.

In other news, Todd Boss has begun a series on Rule 5ers Brad Meyers and Erik Komatsu. You’ll be shocked to learn Brad Meyers why hasn’t appeared in the box scores (no, you really won’t) and how Erik Komatsu may actually stick with St. Louis. Turns out Meyers and Komatsu have something in common that might also not surprise you, especially when you consider that injuries and the Rule 5 draft go together like corruption and college sports.

Mar 122012
 

Shortly after putting up eight runs for the second time in three games, the Nationals announced the optioning of three 40-man roster players and the reassignment of six more players to minor-league camp.

As the headline suggests, Anthony Rendon and Matt Purke were officially optioned to High-A Potomac. Carlos Rivero, the third 40-man player, was optioned to AAA Syracuse. The following players were also among the first cuts of the 2012 Spring Training:

  • RHP Austin Bibens-Dirkx
  • OF Corey Brown
  • IF Jarrret Hoffpauir
  • C Sandy Leon
  • RHP Rafael Martin
  • OF Xavier Paul

Obviously, this is good news for us as seamheads — presuming, of course that these two players aren’t reassigned — since Potomac is our home base, we might just have my eyes on these two much sooner than I initially thought (*ahem*).

Corey Brown getting sent down (hey, that rhymes!) was a bit of a shock, especially when no-AA-experience Eury Perez seemed like a shoo-in to get optioned, too (hey, that… never mind).

It’s tempting to suggest that Perez could sticking around as a potential trade bait, but the more likely scenario is that the big club wants to work with him for a little longer before sending him to the minors camp.

Otherwise, most of these other moves aren’t surprising. Best guess for the next set of cuts is in a week to ten days.

Mar 122012
 

In the final game before the first round of cuts, the Nationals scored in each of the first five innings for an 8-4 win over the Cardinals in Viera.

Linescores from the minor-leaguers:

  • Steve Lombardozzi went 0-for-2 with a strikeout
  • Tyler Moore went 2-for-2 with a run scored
  • Eury Perez went 0-for-1 with sacrifice and a run scored
  • Corey Brown went 2-for-4 with 2RBI, a stolen base, and an OF assist
  • Matt Purke walked one, struck out one, and allowed a hit over an inning and a third

The Nationals host the Tigers tomorrow night with Edwin Jackson getting his third start of the spring. The game will be broadcast on MASN.

Mar 112012
 

Let’s hope this doesn’t start up again.

The Nats were rained out after four full innings were played in Jupiter, FL. Gio Gonzalez threw four scoreless innings, allowing two hits, no walks, and striking out two. The unofficial pitch count was 51 pitches, per Craig Heist on Twitter.

Both prospects that got the start — Eury Perez and Anthony Rendon — were 0-for-2. Perez led off and played CF while Rendon batted eighth and played 3B. Both players handled their lone defensive chance cleanly.

The two teams are set to meet again tomorrow in Viera, with the Cardinals sending a split squad, but there will be no broadcast.

Mar 102012
 

Today is probably the apex of the spring for us in terms of names in the box scores, courtesy of the two split-squad games. The “regular” Nats took the home game, 8-2 against the Mets, while the “scrubs” played to a 5-5 tie with the Tigers on the road.

As teased on Twitter, the lament of the lack of offense appears to have been a reverse jinx of sorts in Viera, as the starters put up five runs over the first two innings. Adam LaRoche made his “A” game debut at the plate with a first-inning RBI single to plate Ryan Zimmerman, who doubled in two in second.

Chien-Ming Wang got roughed up for two runs on three hits and a walk over his two innings, but the ‘pen locked it down the rest of the way, led by Craig Stammen (3IP, 2H, 0BB, 4K). Atahualpa Severino contributed a scoreless inning, giving up two hits but fanning two.

Tyler Moore and Anthony Rendon connected on back-to-back doubles in the 7th while subbing for LaRoche and Zimmerman. Blake Kelso followed Ian Desmond at shortstop and hit a sacrifice fly, on which leadfooted Sandy Leon was doubled off first. Leon singled twice and scored a run otherwise, catching all nine innings.

Michael Taylor and Randolph Oduber both went 0-for-1 with Taylor drawing a walk in relief of Rick Ankiel and Jayson Werth, respectively.

Meanwhile, in Lakeland, the Nationals and Tigers played to a 10-inning 5-5 tie, with Steve Lombardozzi, Corey Brown, Jhonatan Solano, and Eury Perez getting starts.

John Lannan also got roughed up for two runs over two innings, including a one-out solo shot in the bottom of the first. The relief work here wasn’t as stellar, with Rafael Martin blowing a save in the bottom of the 8th after the Nats took a 5-4 lead in the top of the frame.

Here’s a rundown of how the minor-leaguers fared:

  • Lombardozzi went 0-for-3 while playing 2B
  • Brown went 1-for-4 with a HR while playing RF
  • Solano went 0-for-2 while playing C
  • Perez went 2-for-3 with a BB while playing CF
  • Jeff Kobernus singled and scored a run after pinch-running for Lombardozzi
  • Destin Hood drew a walk and scored but went 0-for-2 with SO, subbing for Bernadina in LF
  • Carlos Rivero went 0-for-2 in relief of Mark Teahen at 3B

In the course of keeping track of the action this afternoon, I was alerted to Andrew Lang’s youtube channel, which I encourage folks to visit.

Mar 102012
 

The Nats offseason was largely spent bolstering the pitching, with the implication that the offense would come later with a healthy Zimmerman, a comeback by Jayson Werth, and the addition of some kid from the minors.

It may be early, but the worry that the hitting won’t support the pitching wasn’t put to rest on Friday night as the Marlins blanked the Nationals, 3-0.

Stephen Strasburg was charged with the loss, giving up two runs in a sloppy third inning that began when he knocked down a grounder by Bryan Petersen and let it slip from his grip for an infield single. Two batters later, Jose Reyes launched a triple to center to plate Peterson and Emilio Bonifacio singled Reyes in for a 2-0 lead. Strasburg next hit Hanley Ramirez but then settled down to retire the next two batters.

Just four Nationals hit safely and no one reached base via the walk. Three of the four hits came from the minor-leaguers as Steve Lombardozzi went 1-for-3, Tyler Moore went 1-for-2 and Corey Brown went 1-for-2. Incumbents Ian Desmond, Roger Bernadina combined to go 0-for-5 with three strikeouts, while backup catcher Jesus Flores was the only other National to hit safely (1-for-2).

Anthony Rendon started at 3B but went 0-for-2 with a strikeout and made a putout and an assist in his four innings of play. Carlos Rivero replaced him and made an assist while going hitless in his one at-bat. Jhonatan Solano was also a defensive replacement and went 0-for-1 in the field.

It’s a busy day today as the Nats split the squad to visit the Tigers while the rest stay home to host the Mets. Lombardozzi, Brown, Solano and Eury Perez are expected to start on the road in Lakeland. Both games are at 1 p.m. can be heard on MLB Audio.

Mar 082012
 

Pitching continues to not be the problem, as the four moundsmen limited the Houston nine to just three hits in an 8-0 shutout this afternoon.

Edwin Jackson led the way with four innings, with two hits allowed and three strikeouts, followed by Ross Detwiler (3IP, 0H, 3K), Ryan Perry (1IP, 1H, 2K) and Henry Rodriguez, who somehow managed to neither walk nor strike out a batter in a 1-2-3 ninth.

On the off chance that today’s solar flares affected your internet service, Bryce Harper was scratched from today’s game with a mild calf strain. He’s expected to miss 2-3 days with the injury.

The injury gave Eury Perez an unexpected start, with which the 21-year-old delivered a 2-for-4 outing with an RBI and a run scored while playing centerfield.

Among the other notable minor-leaguer lines from the boxscore:

  • Steve Lombardozzi started at SS and led off, going 1-for-2 with a walk and leading a 6-4-3 DP
  • Anthony Rendon subbed for Lombardozzi as a pinch-runner and scored twice while going 1-for-2 with an RBI double
  • Tyler Moore also pinch-ran and played 1B again but was hitless in two ABs
  • Carlos Rivero scored a run but went 0-for-1 while subbing for Jayson Werth as the DH
  • Corey Brown doubled to raise his spring average to .429 and played LF
  • Sandy Leon drew a walk in his lone PA while catching the final three innings

Stephen Strasburg is scheduled to get his second start of the spring tomorrow night as the Nats travel to Jupiter, FL to face off against the Miami Marlins. Lombardozzi, Rendon, Perez, and Moore are all expected to start. The game can be heard online via MLB Audio.

Mar 072012
 

A two-run shot in the bottom of the ninth by veteran minor-leaguer Carlos Maldonado ended this afternoon’s game with a 3-3 tie with the St. Louis Cardinals, as the two teams elected to finish after nine due to a lack of pitchers and the possibility of rain.

Jordan Zimmermann was the first of six Nationals pitchers to take the hill, and continued the string of strong spring outings from the starters with three scoreless innings. The 25-year-old allowed three hits and a walk but struck out three.

Matt Purke also made his first official appearance of the spring, but was torched for a game-tying solo HR in his second inning of work. He allowed four hits but walked none and fanned two in the two frames he pitched.

Boxscore lines from the notable minor-leaguers:

  • Steve Lombardozzi got the start at 2B and went 0-for-2 with a putout and an assist before leaving the game in the 6th
  • Carlos Rivero remains hitless after another 0-for-2 outing as the substitute 3B
  • Tyler Moore singled for his first base hit of the spring to lead off the 9th, scoring on Maldonado’s HR, and struck out in his other AB
  • Anthony Rendon filled in again at SS, notching three putouts and turning a double play. At the plate, he struck out twice
  • Corey Brown got the start in RF but went 0-for-3 with a strikeout

The Nats remain in Viera tomorrow afternoon, hosting the Houston Astros in a rematch of last Saturday’s matchup between Edwin Jackson and Livan Hernandez. The Astros broadcast will be available via MLB Audio.