Erick Fedde Optioned to Syracuse, Too

Sending the best 12 or 13 pitchers north with the big club went to bat against service time and sunk costs and struck out once again. Also, Erick Fedde was optioned to Syracuse yesterday.

Pay no attention to Tanner Roark getting lit like a Kennedy at an open bar last night, his third straight outing where he’s failed to give up less than three runs or pitch more than four innings.

Never mind that Shawn Kelly, who gave up 12HR in 26⅓ regular-season innings against major-leaguers, has coughed up five big flies in his last three appearances (3IP) against the not-quite-1927-Yankees lineups of the Mets, Marlins, and Cardinals.

No, I’m not naïve; I’m quite well aware that there’s no connection between the performance of Roark, Kelley, and Fedde. But it’s tiresome to listen to the lies spouted every spring about minor-leaguers having a chance to win a job. It just doesn’t happen anymore.

Even if a major-leaguer is injured (*cough* Ryan Zimmerman *cough*) they’ll get a aging replacement veteran instead, as the signings of Jeremy Hellickson and Joaquin Benoit this year and Jeremy Guthrie last year. Just don’t complain if (when) any of the veterans continue to not perform when the games count.

Victor Robles Optioned to Syracuse

As expected, the Nationals’ top prospect was sent to the back fields yesterday to join his eventual teammates at AAA Syracuse. How long he’ll be in upstate New York remains a mystery, but if you’re this guy…

Asked for the earliest date at which the Nationals could call up Robles and still postpone his free agency another year — a calculation based on accumulation of major league service time — one Nationals official said he hadn’t even thought about it.

… have I got a deal on some Florida real estate for you!

Of course, he hasn’t thought about it… the same way he hasn’t thought about what date is Independence Day or Christmas. Every front office knows what that date is for their top prospects.

As mentioned previously, Robles made this decision easier and less of a farce than Ronald Acuna by struggling over his last few games after starting relatively strong. It may be heresy to suggest this, but it could also be that Robles isn’t quite ready yet.

That really shouldn’t be a surprise: Few 20-y.o.’s are ready for The Show after just 37 games at AA, zero at AAA, and less than 360 games total. Even Acuna has put in more time at AA (57 games) and AAA (54 games). That’s what makes players like Bryce Harper and Mike Trout so special – particularly in this current era where service-time manipulation is not tolerated, it’s celebrated.

I return you to your snowy Wednesday, which in the D.C. area, probably means working from home. Those of you who have to do it with small children may be inspired to work on your novel.

Shifting Gears

Shifting-GearsIt’s time to shift gears away from day-to-day coverage and wait for the minors to start up. This is the third time in four years that I’ve pulled the plug without a specific action or event, just a feeling that it’s been enough.

It’s an indulgence for a minors site to write about spring training, but especially when there are virtually no jobs up for grabs. There’s a teeny-tiny bit of drama over who might be the backup catcher or who’s the #5 starter, but the big club’s made it pretty damn clear that it’s not going to be one of “our guys.”

So sometime this week, Pedro Severino, Erick Fedde, Victor Robles, and Andrew Stevenson will get the proverbial red card in their lockers and prepare to play the RailRiders on April 5 instead of the Reds on March 29.

This year when the minors start up I’ll be in New Orleans for a work conference (and the Baby Cakes, natch), so it might be a little bumpy at the beginning of Season 9 of this little site. My hope is that the week-long gap (as opposed 2-3 days) will enable the full-season rosters to be set earlier, too (if no one gets hurt).

Until then, we’ll back to offseason mode… waiting for news… waiting for… snow?!

Cards Blank Nats, 10-0

The wheels came off the bus in the 6th as the Cards decked the Nats for five runs en route to a 10-0 shutout.

A.J. Cole gave up a run on a home run and two hits total over four innings. He walked one and struck out six while suffering his second spring loss.

Anthony Rendon singled twice and Matt Adams pushed a bunt down the third base line against the shift to comprise the Washington “attack.” The rest of the lineup went 0-for-23.

Victor Robles (CF) and Severino (C) were in the starting lineup while Andrew Stevenson came off the bench as the second center fielder.

The loss drops Washington to 10-11-2. Max Scherzer is expected to make the start tomorrow; same time, same venue, but different opponent (Marlins). The game can be heard on MLB Audio (Miami feed).

Mets Outslug Nats, 9-7

The Mets put up crooked numbers in three big innings to hand the Nats a 9-7 loss.

Tanner Roark, who was rocked for three runs on Sunday, put on seven baserunners in three innings and let in three of ’em to take the loss.

As mentioned in this morning’s post, Michael Taylor and Adam Eaton were both in the starting lineup, CF and LF respectively. Taylor went 1-for-3 with two whiffs while Eaton homered once in two trips to the plate.

Just three Watchlist players appeared in the game.
• Andrew Stevenson pinch-hit for Sammy Solis in the 4th and struck out.
• Victor Robles subbed for Taylor in CF and went 0-for-2 with a strikeout.
• Osvaldo Abreu was the third SS and flew out to make the second out in the 8th.

Washington hits the road for Jupiter, Fla. to play St. Louis tomorrow. Both the Nats and Cards radio teams will be broadcasting while the St. Louis feed will be broadcast on

Nats Double Up Cards, 4-2

Down 1-0 after five and half innings, Washington’s regulars broke out for four runs in the 6th and the subs held the lead for a 4-2 win over St. Louis.

Gio Gonzalez started and gave up a run on a home run and three hits total over five innings. He walked one and struck out three.

Erick Fedde nearly completed the game, allowing the second Cards run on three hits and a walk over three and 2/3rds innings. He was lifted for Tim Collins who preserved the win for Fedde by retiring the only batter he faced on a 6-3 grounder to end the game.

Andrew Stevenson was the lone Watchlist player to start, taking left field and three trips back to the dugout after going 0-for-3 with a strikeout.

Fellow watchlister Victor Robles came off the bench to replace Brian Goodwin in CF but struck out in his only plate appearance, which is making it far easier to send him down for service-time manipulation than some other 20-year-olds.

The Mets come to West Palm Beach this afternoon to face Tanner Roark and the Nats. The game will interrupt the prattling about Kirk Cousins on WJFK 106.7FM, and both Michael Taylor and Adam Eaton are expected to play.

Houston Has No Problem, 12-3

The Nats shut the Astros out for six innings yesterday. In the other three innings, Houston scored three in the 1st, four in the 5th, and five in the 9th as they blasted Washington, 12-3.

Former prospect/site favorite Tommy Milone took the loss as he was lit up for the first three runs on five hits and two walks. Current prospect Austin Adams walked all four batters he faced and all four came a round to score in the 5th.

Victor Robles got the start in center field but was 0-for-2 with a strikeout. He’s now hitting just .220 (9-for-41).

Here’s how the Watchlist players did coming off the bench:
• Blake Perkins took over for Robles in CF and went 0-for-1 with an RBI walk and a strikeout.
• Andrew Stevenson subbed for Ryan Raburn in LF and struck out three times in three PAs
• Pedro Severino was the second backstop and was 0-for-1 with a walk, an RBI, and a whiff.

The Cards come to West Palm Beach this afternoon to visit the Nats. Gio Gonzalez is expected to pitch. The game will be broadcast on MASN, but you will be unable to mute the sound and listen to an alternate audio feed. Sorry.

Six More Sent Packing | Pace of Play Rules

Late Tuesday night, the Nats sent six players to minor-league camp:

OF Rafael Bautista LHP Bryan Harper
1B-LF Jose Marmolejos RHP Jaron Long
RHP Wander Suero C Jhonatan Solano

Ordinarily, that might have been enough to pull the plug—it’s usually somewhere between Julius Caesar saying “Ow, my back!” and the monks at St. Capistrano saying “Great, now we have to clean up after all these birds”—but with still a little drama regarding Victor Robles and Erick Fedde, I’m going to keep the lights on for a few more days.


As the headline notes, yesterday the minors announced it will implementing speed-up rules including a limit on the number of mound visits, a 15-second pitch clock, and placing a runner on second base to start each extra inning. The latter is probably the most controversial, prompting some pearl-clutching that it’ll be “99% probable that an inning will start with a bunt followed by an intentional walk.”

I tend to doubt it except when the batter in question is an accomplished bunter, which we know is not as common as it is in the majors. And why stop at just one intentional walk? Might as well load the bases if you’re the visiting team and playing for two. In fact, you may actually see some savvy managers making sure the opposing team’s fastest runner won’t be the guy on second if there’s another extra inning – especially if it can set up making a catcher the last out.

The “runner on second” rule has already been instituted in the DSL, GCL, and AZL last season. The sky remains blue and above us, so I don’t see the harm in expanding it to the rest of the minors as a trial run. The so-called purists, a.k.a. the opponents of the DH rule that was first proposed in the 1890s, can stain their doilies with the ink splattered from their fingers trembling to keep their quills steady as they write their letters to the editor (OK, fine: as they text from their flip-phones).

I don’t see this as being all that different than the college football overtime rules or the three-point line in basketball. We’re not talking about reducing the number of balls and strikes for walks and whiffs or games could end in a tie. The minors already are different than the majors in terms of pinch-hitting, how relievers are used, players learning a position “on the job,” etc.

Nats Hold Off Mets, 7-4

The Nats burst from the gate to score three in the 1st and two in the 3rd then held off a late charge from the Mets to win 7-4.

Max Scherzer dominated New York’s regulars with nine K’s and just one hit allowed over five shutout innings for the win. Veterans Ryan Madson and Joaquin Benoit were “working on some things” for all four Mets runs in the 7th and 8th innings before Tim Collins cut things short in the 9th to earn the save.

Victor Robles and Jose Marmolejos continue to get reps in place of ailing regulars. Both were 1-for-3 with an RBI while playing CF and 1B, respectively.

Likewise, Andrew Stevenson and Rafael Bautista came off the bench to pinch-run and take the field (left and right). Bautista scored a run in Bryce Harper’s stead while Stevenson smacked a two-run double in the 6th to give the Nats a 7-0 lead before Madson and Benoit did their neck stretches.

Today is the final off day in Florida. They’ll play the next three in West Palm Beach against the usual suspects (Astros, Cardinals, and Mets) before heading to Jupiter (FL, natch) to play the Cards and Marlns on Sunday and Monday.

Soto Powers Late Rallies for Nats over Tigers, 5-4

Juan Soto only made two plate appearances yesterday, but he made them count – an RBI double in the 8th to pull the Nats within one at 3-2, a bases-loaded walk in the 9th to put the Nats up, 5-3. The latter proved to be critical when Bryan Harper coughed up a two-out homer in the 9th that got the Tigers within one.

The elder Harper, who has been scored upon in three of five spring appearances, then gave up a single but got the third and final out in the 9th for the “save” of a 5-4 Washington win.

Edwin Jackson got the start and gave up the first Detroit run on two walks and three hits. The win went to Matt Grace for a scoreless 7th while Austin Adams set down the side in order in the 8th for the hold.

Victor Robles started in CF but was hitless (0-for-3) for the third straight game, dropping his spring average to .222. Andrew Stevenson was to his right in left field in the 1st and went 1-for-3 with two whiffs to improve his BA to .281 for the spring. Pedro Severino got the assignment behind the plate but was also 0-for-3, which lowered his BA to .200.

Rafael Bautista came off the bench to pinch-run for Brian Goodwin and play centerfield and was 0-for-2 (.091). Jose Marmolejos took over LF from Stevenson and singled in the 8th and scored on a passed ball. He would finish 1-for-2 to improve his spring batting line to .237.

The Nats return to West Palm Beach tonight to host the Mets. Max Scherzer is expected to start while the game will be broadcast both on MASN and WJFK 106.7FM (assuming there’s nothing Redksins-related to pre-empt the broadcast).