Checking In…

I’m still here, waiting for the parent club to finish out a fine September. With any luck, the rains will hold off tomorrow afternoon so I can catch just one more baseball game this year.

I typically make it out to Nationals Park just once or twice a season. Sounds funny, I know, but I’m a bit busy from early April to mid-September. Even before this website was born, that was true. The rhythms and rituals of a major-league game are just different, and as a minors guy, sometimes a bit dissonant.

Today is the first day of Fall on the calendar, but a baseball fan has a different kind of calendar… spring begins when pitchers and catchers report, summer starts on Opening Day, fall is when the rosters expand, and Winter starts the day after World Series ends.

But sometimes it feels like Winter comes a lot faster as I get older. To your right is a poster I bought about 20 years ago in Cooperstown with a quote from A. Bartlett Giamatti’s inimitable essay “The Greenfields of the Mind” that I end up re-reading this time of year that captures that feeling perfectly.

As mentioned in the comments, the Florida Instructional League starts up today. Believe me, I wish I were down there rather than being reminded what it’s like to live in the Pacific Northwest (a hint: weather like this month, but cooler, longer, and a lot less daylight).

Baseball America has been running its Top 20 lists for each minor league, and the hope is that today’s Monday’s entry on the New York-Penn League will include one or two of the Auburn Doubledays (and thus, giving me a news peg for another post!). If not, please make sure you read Mark Zuckerman’s post on the recent sweep of the Phillies and what it might mean in “the big picture.”

As always, feel free to pass along news, rumors, and opinions in the comments so we don’t have to face the Fall alone.

Author: Luke Erickson

Since 2009, Luke Erickson has been chief writer, editor, and bottle-washer of Potomac is his home base as a season-ticket holder, but he has visited every affiliate north of Florida at least once, with multiple trips to Hagerstown and Harrisburg.

25 thoughts on “Checking In…”

  1. Sue – Just want to say ‘thank you’ for this web site and all the work you do here. Following the Nats farm system is truly a pleasure of mine that wouldn’t be as insightful or fun if all I were doing was checking the stats from All the work you do is highly appreciated. PLEASE keep it up! See you next season!

    1. Mark H, stay tuned, there’s plenty of ‘goings on’ in the offseason for us.

      I sure do wish I, or anyone else was in Viera right now.

  2. Gosh Sue, you sound really sad and resigned to baseball’s fall into dormancy. Only the picture of your dog by the door can transcend that forlornness .
    And I echo mark h’s comments. Appreciate all the work you have put into the site.

  3. Appreciate the kind words, gents. I think it’s the rain more than the end of baseball; there’s a reason why I didn’t stick in the Pacific Northwest, even if I’m an odd duck.

  4. Let me add my kudos to you for this site, Sue. It’s become a regular spot on my tour through the interNats. I’ve learned a lot here, looking forward to the end-of-the-season recaps when you’re up to it!

    1. interNats? Oh, I like that.

      Part of the delay, of course, is waiting for the regular season to end. The other is making sure it “drops” during the week so that the most folks will see it. But one thing’s for sure: my melancholy eases once I start writing about baseball.

  5. Man, I have been starting my predictions for next year and there are some har choices to make. Im looking over my Harrisburg relivers and I have to find a new place for 2 of these guys

    Pat Lehman
    Christian Garcia
    Joe Testa
    Hector Nelo
    Marcos Frias
    Josh Smoker
    Pat McCoy
    Hassan Pena
    Evan Bronson.

    I already have Mock, Barthmier, Carlos Martinez, and Atilano in XST or cut so far.

    1. At least a couple of those names are going to be FAs, not to mention releases and retirements. The latter is always the most difficult to predict because it’s such a personal decision. I always think of Will Atwood who abruptly quit after the ’09 season and was only 23 or so at the time.

      1. Right now im assuming that they will all be back, because im not even going to try to to predict retirements. I could see Garcia not comming back. What are the rules on MiLB FA’s, as that way I could get a better idea on who to include, and who to leave off.

        Thanks for all you do with the site, and your willingness to put up with my stupid questions, its really given me a feel to how the minor league side of the game works.

        1. Let me quote it from BA:
          “Any player who was not on a 40-man roster on Nov. 6 qualified for free agency if he had accumulated at least six years of service time (minors and majors inclusive) while still bound by his first uniform minor league player contract. That contract is broken if the player is released or granted free agency by other means before he logs six years. ”

          As Brian pointed out frequently on NFA, the six years is a bit of a misnomer — it’s really all or parts of seven seasons because the clock doesn’t start ticking until midway through “season zero”, i.e. the year they were drafted. For this year, that’s basically the guys that were drafted in 2005 or earlier.

          Between now and when the FA season begins teams will sign the OGs they want back before hitting free agency. At the higher levels, these type of players can start to earn in the low six figures — penny ante for the clubs, but more than they’ve ever been paid as baseball players. Something to consider when people say “Why is this guy still hanging around?”

          1. Sue, that’s a great point. I remember looking at the Rochester roster when they were an Orioles affiliate and seeing someone who I thought should have long gone. Turns out he was being paid $250,000 that year.
            I’d keep ‘hanging around’ for that kind of money.

          2. Your statement on salary rings true, particularly for players with prior MLB experience. Those guys usually sign ‘split’ contracts, with set MLB/MiLB salaries (ex: $800k in MLB, $275K in minors). Also, a 6-year MiLB veteran at 3A can earn upwards of $120k per year. Not bad money for playing ball as a living, but just part of the ‘hidden’ costs that MLB franchise owners incur every year.

  6. Forgive me if I bring up the Major-League roster for a few minutes here, but it does have an effect on who we see in the minors in 2012.

    The Nationals’ roster currently stands at 43 players, with three players (Kimball, Ramirez, & LaRoche on the 60-DL). Those spots will have to be cleared in order to arrive at a true 40-man roster by the end of the World Series. That should be easy, since the parent club has nine players whose contracts expire at the end of the season (Pudge, Livo, Cora, Bixler, Nix, Ankiel, Wang, Coffey, & Slaten), and five (Gomes, Gorzelanny, Severino, Ramirez, & Kimball) who could be non-tender candidates. That takes the roster down to somewhere between 29-34 players.

    By my count, there are about 25 Nationals minor-leaguers who could be exposed to this years’ RuleV draft or minor-league FA; Some have been exposed & cleared in prior years, but others are new & still highly valued by the Orginization. One would think that players like Norris, Smoker, and possibly others will be added to the 40-man prior to the GM’s meeting in December, but maybe not. Thoughts, anyone?

    1. On Kimball and other injured players, I know that your roster can have more than 40 players on it during most of the offseason, and I think by the time you have to get it down to 40 you can put guys on the 60 day DL(Kimball). I would think that we would protect Norris, and Tyler Moore no matter what. The only question is who of VanAllen, Smoker, Komatsu, Meyers, and other I know im forgeting that you want to protect.

      1. As I understand it, the 60-DL option is only available over the course of the season (Opening Day to the end of the World Series); Anything outside that requires players being released/DFA’d/non-tendered to stay at or below 40 during the off-season. The Yankees could have a tough time with that this year, as they currently have seven players on their 60-DL list.

    2. BinM,

      Many of these guys that have been discussed have to be protected by the first week in November (not sure of exact date) so as not to be exposed to the Rule V draft. These decisions have to be made in advance of the GM’s meeting in December.

  7. One uninformed reader’s thoughts:
    Non-re-signed FAs: Coffey, Slaten, Pudge, Cora, Ankiel, Bixler (Maybe a minor league deal), Nix, Gomes
    DFA: E. Ramirez
    Added to 40-man: Norris, T Moore, Meyers

    By my count that would put them at 37, but they could play a roster game with Livo and Kimball, where they sign Livo to a minor league deal then after spring training move him to the roster and put Kimball on the 60-day DL; effectively giving them a forth roster slot. The could also DFA Severino and Gorzelanny if they need the roster spots later in the offseason, but Rizzo has shown that he does not pro-actively open up roster spots; he tends to keep them filled until he absolutely needs to make a decision.

    1. Gorzelanny was pretty effective as well as versatile. If its choice between Slaten and Gorzelanny I’d go with Gorzelanny. Who else is there? Severino? I don’t think his time in the majors was stellar do you?

      Given his versatility I’d expect they will pick Gorzo over Lannan. With all the lefties someone is going to have to go.

      If they manage to sign CJ Wilson … and as for trading for Matt Kemp. Why BinM? Where would you put him when Harper is ready? And he is close enough where you have to consider it.

      Its why Werth has been in CF for a lot of this latter part of the season and its likely where he starts off in 2012. Its going to be Morse on one side and a stand-in for Harper on the other side. I don’t see the Shark making it … with LaRoche at first base Marerro returns to Syracuse as does Bernadina.

      Its likely they will sign a free agent stand-in for Harper to play right field.

      The infield is a good kind of mess with Rendon added to the mix. Harrisburg and the Syracuse with Rendon, Norris, Moore, and Harper in the lineup should be interesting.

      Yeah, if they must they will put Tyler Moore on the 40-man. That’s a lock.

      1. Regarding Matt Kemp – I simply used him as an example of what Rizzo might be looking for if he goes after the Big Trade; You could plug in one of a few other names, depending on what team you think is willing to deal.

        If Gorzelanny is willing to accept the long relief role without insisting on starting, then bring him back. It’s not an either/or between Gorzo & Slaten (Slaten is not coming back, imo).

  8. Does anyone know Kimball’s status? I believe he’s still a rookie, but is he expected to be healthy next season? Has he lost his upside because of the shoulder injury?

  9. More than half-a-dozen comments on an NFL Sunday? You guys rock!

    Kimball – I think he’s DFA’d a la Carr and the team gambles that no one will pick him up. Unlike Carr, he’s had a bit more exposure so there’s a greater chance someone might bite.

    Gorzelanny – I agree. A lefty swingman could be a great role for him, especially with Johnson being the kind of manager that’s willing to deviate from the LaRussa playbook (remember I cited the ’86 Mets as an example of how the bullpen by committee, a.k.a. what they used to do , can work for a contender).

    40-Man – I’d lean against protecting anybody with an injury history. That means guys like Brown and Meyers get exposed, but that’s the nature of the beast.

    Trades – I have a gut feeling that some are going to get made. John Lannan is probably the most fungible asset, so long as Rizzo doesn’t get too greedy. Perhaps a Gorzelanny trade in reverse that could net some position prospects?

    1. Either way it should be a more intersting offseason, now that were talking about legit prospects supposed to OG’s I would still protect Meyers, as I think he could be a very good MLB SP

  10. Any info at all bubbling up from the FIL in Viera? any no shows ay folks we did not expect to be there show up?

    1. Nada. Gotta remember that as much as Zuckerman, et al think DC’s on its way to being a baseball town, that a 3rd-place-securing win can’t even make the front page of the WaPo sports section is proof that the evidence does not support that delusion.

  11. 🙁 If I was not going on vacation right for the next two weeks I would try to get to Viera to see how the Young Guns are doing in the FIL

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