So Long, Boys

Alas, there is a flip side to the offseason signings and the reassignments. In the latest transactions post from Baseball America, we learned the following Nats minor-leaguers have been released:

• 2B Dalton Dulin (Auburn)
• RHP Russell Harmening (Auburn)
• RHP Conner Porter (GCL)
• 1B Ryan Ripken (Hagerstown, Auburn)
• RHP Brayan Serrata (Auburn)

These are just from the period of March 18-24; I suspect there will be more but no additional names have appeared on MiLB.com thus far. A reminder, as usual, that for most of these guys this is the end of their days as a professional baseball player.

Six More Cut, Two More to Go

Cole, Gott Optioned to AAA; Glover the last watchlist player standing

Six more players were sent packing as the Nationals play their final Spring Training game in Florida this afternoon.

A.J. Cole and Trevor Gott were optioned to Syracuse, while Neal Cotts, Jhonatan Solano, and Jacob Turner were re-assigned to minor-league camp. Journeyman Vance Worley was released outright.

As the headline suggests, there are two more cuts to be made – and it appears to be a battle between Michael Taylor and Wilmer Difo for the last bench spot, and whether or not the Nats opt to carry a long man. In the case of the latter, Jeremy Guthrie would be that guy as the Nats waived Clint Robinson on Tuesday because he is out of options, which would open up the necessary spot on the 40-man roster.

The choice between Difo and Taylor is not about options; both have one left. It’s about whether you value versatility (Difo) versus tools (Taylor).

This is a minors site, so I have to leave that there and shift to this unpleasant reality regarding the guy in the subhead, Koda Glover: He has multiple options left and he’s competing against guys with one (Sammy Solis) or none (Enny Romero). As well as he’s pitched this spring, Glover could still be the odd man out.

I’d love to be wrong about this, but I’ve never been one to go after Moby Dick and bring the tartar sauce. Nats GM Mike Rizzo has done nothing to change that, never mind where I’m from (New England), or what my parents lived through (the Great Depression). I root for “our guys,” but I know deep down they’re still going to be treated like chattel cattle more often than not.

I suspect we’ll see the first of these two final cuts if/when Robinson clears waivers, which should be tomorrow. The other cut may not be until Sunday, unless Rizzo pulls off another late-March trade.

As always, feel free to discuss in the comments.

Nats Option Four More to AAA

Well, ask and ye shall receive, no?

After yesterday’s 4-1 win over the Astros at the BotPB, the Nationals optioned Brian Goodwin, Matt Grace, Rafael Martin, and Pedro Severino were optioned to AAA while AAAA Emmanuel Burriss was reassigned to minor-league camp.

None of the moves were unexpected (just long delayed). There are now 37 players left in camp, including eight non-roster invitees and watchlist players Koda Glover and A.J. Cole.

Given his Glover’s role in the current closer soap opera, his continued presence in camp is expected, but Cole’s is not. This feeds into the other contrived drama* regarding manager Dusty Baker’s preference for a long man, and of course, the omnipresent third option of a trade, which is also expected to solve the “battle” between Adam Lind and out-of-options Clint Robinson. *Excluding this softer-than-a-baby’s-bottom story.

UPDATE: UT Brandon Snyder was also reassigned to minor-league camp on Sunday morning.

The Nationals have five games left in Florida before they head north to play a pair of cash grabs exhibitions against the Red Sox on Friday and Saturday.

Saturday Smorgasbord

Also, what the FAQ?

For what it’s worth, I’m mostly Irish, but I like the word smorgasbord.

As the subhead suggests, I’ve finished the FAQs, so take a look if you’re new here, curious, or, for the old-timer… just bored.

Thanks to the WBC, the timing and rhythm of spring training this year is a little off — about 5-6 days, I’d say. Usually by now, we get the first inkling of who’s been released, which is not something I relish writing about but it does help give us a clue as to what the minor-league rosters will be.

It also seems like the Nationals are taking their sweet time in making up their minds regarding Brian Goodwin, A.J. Cole, and Pedro Severino. This trio seems nearly guaranteed to start the season at Syracuse, which begs the question “Why are they taking so long?” All have options left and none of them are doing so well to entertain the idea of another team wanting to trade for them.

Erick Fedde was reassigned yesterday, which was no surprise, but if he dominates at AA early and/or Joe Ross struggles, I’m expecting a drumbeat from the Natmosphere.

Back to the minors, Hagerstown announced a new radio man/media director, Kevin Gehl, who is the third Suns broadcaster in three seasons, following Jordan Nicewarner (2016) and Eli Pearlstein (2013-15).

Finally, the transaction wire from BA has been largely insignificant. As some have noted in the comments, there have been a few low-level signings this month, including what appears to be two IFAs (RHPs Johan Gomez and Alejandro Vallejo) and a non-drafted free agent (2B Alian Silva).

As always, feel free to discuss in the comments while we wait for the minors to start up.

In Case You Hadn’t Heard…

About a month ago, the folks from MASN came to me—sans pitchforks and torches—and asked me to join their rotation of guest bloggers for this season. Now that I’ve thoroughly buried the lede, I said “yes.”

While my MASN posts will be posted on Wednesdays, I’ll probably write them on the weekends and file them early.

But this isn’t about me per se. It’s about you. No, really.

One of the first things that occurs to me is that there will be newbies, and they will have questions. This means we need some sort of glossary, which some of you may actually enjoy, too.

This is where you can help. Off the top of my head, I figure folks will ask:
• What’s up with the bulldogs?
• What is an OG?
• What is a “sportswriter’s win?”
• What is the “Hellenic flu?”
• What is the “Curse of the GBI?”
• What’s the difference between promoted, transferred, and reassigned?
• Seriously, what’s the deal with the dogs?

What are the others you guys (and gals) can think of? This is your chance to ward off the askholes or just simply to make this site a little better.

Please, discuss in the comments or send me an email.

Shifting Gears

Shifting-GearsLike two years ago, I’m not making this call based on a set of cuts or circumstances. It’s just time for me to stop covering the spring training games and wait for the minor-league seasons to begin.

It’s pretty clear from the playing time that Brian Goodwin, Rafael Bautista, and Pedro Severino will be the first position player to be recalled from Syracuse if/when needed.

Yesterday’s loss not withstanding, I’m fairly confident Koda Glover will make the club, though I doubt he’ll be pitching in the 9th inning at the outset.

Conversely, A.J. Cole appears to have pitched himself back to upstate New York, even if the Nats brass finally decides he may be better suited to relief (as I wrote in the player reports before spring training started).

Simply put, there’s just not enough of an excuse to continue writing every day – I’ve gotten back into the rhythm, shaken off the rust, etc. It’s an indulgence anyway for a minor-league site to write this much about the big club anyway.

I’ll be ready to go in a couple weeks, and look forward to Season 8 of covering, lamenting, celebrating, and kvetching about the Washington Nationals’ minor leagues.

Astros Edge Nats, 5-4

Houston took an early 3-0 lead, Washington rallied to tie it at 4-4, but the Astros pushed across a run in the 9th against Koda Glover to take this one, 5-4.

Glover gave up a leadoff double and a one-out single to wear “L.” It was the first run he had given up in seven appearances this spring.

Joe Ross got the start and pitched into the 5th, letting in the first four runs (two earned) on six hits and a walk. He struck out three.

Brian Goodwin got yet another start, this time in CF, and went hitless yet again, going 0-for-3 with two strikeouts.

You can already probably guess the next two watchlist players to appear:
Rafael Bautista pinch-hit for Bryce Harper in the 7th and was 0-for-2.
Pedro Severino pinch-hit for DH Chris Heisey and was also 0-for-2.

The Nats fall below .500 again at 8-9-4 and make a return trip to Jupiter, FL to visit the Marlins. Stephen Strasburg is scheduled to pitch while the game can be heard locally on 1580AM again. Rinse.Lather.Repeat.

Nats Don’t Lose, 5-5

The Nats rallied for four in the 7th to tie, and loaded the bases in the 8th, but couldn’t push across the go-ahead run as they tied the Marlins, 5-5 on Friday afternoon – the fourth tie in 20 spring training games.

It also took Erick Fedde off the hook for the “L,” as Miami shredded him (would that be con-Fedde?) for five runs over an inning and 2/3rds on four hit and three walks. The big blow was an Earl Weaver special off the bat of Marcell Ozuna after a hit by pitch with two out in the 2nd.

Brian Goodwin got the start in RF and went 0-for-2 with a walk. Rafael Bautista, who was optioned along with Austin Adams prior to the game, took over for Goodwin and was 0-for-1 with a walk and a run scored.

Pedro Severino was the only other watchlist player to appear in the gam. He struck out and walked in his two plate appearances after he replaced starting catcher Spencer Kieboom.

Washington returns to West Palm Beach to play Houston as the home team at the BotPB this afternoon. Joe Ross is expected to get the start for the Nats. The game will be broadcast locally on 1580AM.

Nats Pull Back Even with 3-1 Win over Mets

Harper Homers Again

Let the comeback-player stories begin as Bryce Harper launched a solo shot in the 1st against Zack Wheeler to get the Nats on the board early in a 3-1 Washington win over New York.

The 24-y.o. former N.L. MVP is 9-for-29 with six HR and nine RBI thus far in 2017 spring training.

Meanwhile, the mercurial Gio Gonzalez walked just one batter over five no-hit innings to lower his spring ERA to 0.75 and get credit for the win. In four outings, the FL native has let in one run on five hits and three walks over 12 innings.

Three watchlist position players got into the game, and they’re the usual suspects:
Pedro Severino got the start behind the plate and went 1-for-3.
Brian Goodwin subbed for Harper in RF on defense in the 7th but did not come to bat.
Rafael Bautista replaced Adam Eaton in CF and doubled in his only AB. He also committed an error, which led to the Mets’ run.

Koda Glover pitched the 9th and struck out two of three batters faced to earn the save.

The win evens up Washington’s ST record at 8-8 with three ties. Erick Fedde is expected to make the start on Friday as the Nats visit the Marlins. The game can be heard on MLB Audio (Miami feed).