Some thoughts on how the first 10 days have gone…
With rain pushing back the start of the afternoon tilt in Viera to 2:00 p.m., the odds are good that today’s action will have to be covered in a two-fer roundup tomorrow. But for the sake of keeping the site fresh, and since it’s more than possible that both games could get rained out, I figure I’d pass along some thoughts about how Spring Training is going so far.
Full disclosure: Once the minors start up, my attention is severely shifted from the parent club, as I would imagine you might guess and I would hope that you’d expect…
For better or worse, it looks like Ivan Rodriguez will remain the incumbent, even if the club is better off shifting him to a backup role. Obviously, this could all be posturing since injuries to catchers make the Nationals a trading partner, given that they have two young catchers that could start (Wilson Ramos, Jesus Flores) and a stud prospect (Derek Norris) that’s on the horizon.
The strong early showing from Chris Marrero has been one of the spring surprises. It’s unlikely that he’ll hit his way onto the roster, even if Adam LaRoche’s shoulder woes worsen, but it’s something that folks have been waiting a long, long time to see.
Danny Espinosa has come into spring training firing on all offensive cylinders while Ian Desmond continues to commit flat-footed errors. The team appears committed to their current alignment (Espinosa at 2B, Desmond at SS) so the real intrigue is who will be their backups between veterans Alex Cora and Jerry Hairston Jr., and journeyman Alberto Gonzalez and Brian Bixler.
Ryan Zimmerman. Rinse, lather, repeat.
Jayson Werth. The $126M man is here until further notice, an .077 ST average or not.
Could Roger Bernadina possibly win the job away from Nyjer Morgan? I’d like to say yes, but it seems more likely that unless the two are wildly apart in three weeks, Morgan will stay and Bernadina will go to…
…where he’s competing with Michael Morse and Rick Ankiel. Morse is having a very strong spring and his versatility should nearly assure himself of making the club outright. Some folks have suggested a platoon, but my gut on Riggleman is that he’s no Davey Johnson when it comes to sticking with that arrangement long-term. The fifth OF spot is anyone’s guess, but I wouldn’t award to Ankiel just yet.
It’s early, but the most intriguing case is that for Ross Detwiler, who looked tremendous his last time out against the Braves on Sunday. The general consensus seems to be that the race is for the #5 spot, with Gorzelanny, Maya, and Detwiler battling it out. Chad Gaudin has been given two turns but my gut says “no.”
The competition here is strong, but the sample sizes are small. It wouldn’t surprise me if only one or two pitchers are among the next round of cuts, which would leave the likes of Luis Atilano, Garrett Mock, Atahualpa Severino, and Josh Wilkie as the most likely
Drew Storen is struggling. Some have suggested that his return to Stanford is to blame, which is mean-spirited and probably not true. Newly acquired Todd Coffey has performed well early, as has Sean Burnett and Tyler Clippard. The Nats have a slew of hard-throwing righthanders in camp, including prospects Cole Kimball and Adam Carr. Henry Rodriguez is another but one has to wonder if his visa delay will equal a stint on the DL with a strained uvula or something like that.
RULE 5 GUYS
Brian Broderick ought to be listed among the candidates for the #5 man, but his status as a Rule 5 pick hurts him, unless the plan is to make him the long man that can start, putting him in a good spot if he’s competing against Chad Gaudin and Craig Stammen for that role. Elvin Ramirez, the other visa-problem guy, has yet to pitch in a major-league spring game, which increases the odds that he’ll be returned to the Mets.