June 2009

Nats need to make another move

By acquiring outfielder Nyjer Morgan and reliever Sean Burnett, the Nationals have to take a player off the 25-man roster by Wednesday morning.

Second baseman Ronnie Belliard and outfielder Austin Kearns are the leading candidates to be let go. Both players are having their worst seasons of their careers and haven’t seen much action in the last two weeks.

I’ll keep you posted on what’s going on.   
 

Nationals acquire Sean Burnett, Nyjer Morgan [update]

The Nationals have traded reliever Joel Hanrahan and outfielder Lastings Milledge to the Pirates for reliever Sean Burnett and outfielder Nyjer Morgan on Tuesday afternoon.

Morgan is considered the key to the deal for Washington. He was acquired to improve the team’s outfield defense, which is one of the worst in the National League.

The Nationals have been unhappy with their outfielders for quite some time. They have come to the come to the conclusion that Adam Dunn and Josh Willingham belong in the American League as designated hitters and Elijah Dukes makes too many fundamental  mistakes.

The Nationals see Morgan as a center fielder/leadoff hitter. Washington also likes his hockey attitude. He once played with the Regina Pats of the Western Hockey League during the 1999-2000 season.

Morgan, who will wear uniform No. 1, was playing left field and batting second for Pittsburgh. Entering Tuesday’s action, Morgan was hitting .277 with two home runs, 27 RBIs and 18 stolen bases.

The Nationals also get younger in the bullpen with Burnett on board. He will be a middle reliever for the team. Burnett appeared in 38 games and had a respectable 3.06 ERA for Pittsburgh.  The Nationals have not ruled out making him a starter, a role he had when he was drafted by the Pirates in the 2000 First-Year Player Draft. 

“We are open for business” said a happy Mike Rizzo, the Nationals’ acting general manager. “We improved two of our greatest needs. We have a great character guy in Morgan. We have our center fielder. Even though he will be 29 in two days, he plays better than most younger men.”  

Hanrahan and Milledge did not fit in the team’s long-term plans. Hanrahan lost his job as a closer twice because he was often hit hard. Most people in the organization felt that his fastball was too straight and he relied too much on his slider.

Lack of defense and inconsistency at the plate are the reasons Milledge has been in the Minor Leagues since mid-April. In seven games, Milledge was 4-for-24 with an RBI for the Nationals.

It also didn’t help that Milledge was late for a meeting the day before Opening Day in Miami.

According to sources, both Rizzo and manager Manny Acta threatened Milledge with a trip back to the Minor Leagues. The team ended up sending him down on April 14.

Rizzo is far from done in terms of making deals. He is looking for a starting shortstop.  The Nationals feel that Cristian Guzman, who is on the trade block, has lost a few steps with his glove.

The Nationals are alarmed that Guzman is having a difficult time getting ground balls to his left.

The Nationals want young starting pitching in return for Guzman, who has one year left on his contract.

The team doesn’t have to acquire a shortstop — at least for the rest of the season. It can go with Alberto  Gonzalez, who is hitting .326 with a home run and 12 RBIs.

The team is also looking to trade Dukes, and that may be hard to do because he comes with a lot of off-the-field baggage. Who they want for Dukes is not known. Dukes is capable of hitting a lot of home runs and getting a lot of outfield assists.

Nats acquire Sean Burnett, Nyjer Morgan

The Nationals have traded reliever Joel Hanrahan and outfielder Lastings Milledge to the Pirates for reliever Sean Burnett and outfielder Nyjer Moran on Tuesday afternoon.  

Morgan is considered the key to the deal for Washington. He was acquired to improve the team’s outfield defense, which is one of the worst in the National League. 

The Nationals see Morgan as a center fielder/leadoff hitter. The Nationals also like his hockey attitude. He once played with the Regina Pats of the Western Hockey League during the 1999-2000 season.

Morgan was playing is playing left field and batting second for Pittsburgh. Entering Tuesday’s action, Morgan is hitting .277 with two home runs, 27 RBIs and 18 stolen bases. 

The Nationals also get younger in the bullpen with Burnett on board. He will be a middle reliever for the team. Burnett appeared in 38 games and had a respectable 3.06 ERA for Pittsburgh.

Hanrahan and Milledge did not fit in the team’s long-term plans. Hanrahan lost his job as a closer twice because he was often hit hard. Most people in the organization felt that his fastball was too straight and he relied too much on his slider.

Lack of defense and inconsistency at the plate are the reasons Milledge has been in the Minor Leagues since mid-April. In seven games, Milledge was 4-for-24 with an RBI for the Nationals.            

Nationals close to getting Nyjer Morgan

I have learned from a baseball source that Pirates outfielder Nyjer Morgan is close to being dealt to the Nationals. I was told that outfielder Lastings Milledge isn’t the only person that is part of this deal. I will keep you posted when I get more information. 

Nationals agree to terms with Kobernus, others

The Nationals agreed to terms with second baseman Jeffrey Kobernus, shortstop Kyle Breault and pitchers Chad Jenkins, Daniel Rosenbaum, Brandon King, Matt Swynenberg and Shane McCatty. 

Kobernus, who stands 6-foot-2, joins the Nationals organization after three seasons at Cal, where he hit .324 (203-for-626) with 12 home runs, 89 RBI and 44 stolen bases. His efforts earned All Pac 10 honors as a junior in 2009 and Collegiate Baseball Freshman All-American status in 2007.

With Monday’s signings, the Nationals have now agreed to terms with 23 players from the 2009 First-Year Player Draft, including three of their top four picks.

Olsen activated from DL; Martis sent to Syracuse

After Sunday’s 5-3 win over the Orioles, the Nationals activated left-hander Scott Olsen from the 15-day disabled list and optioned right-hander Shairon Martis to Triple-A Syracuse.

Olsen will pitch against his former team, the Marlins, on Monday night at Dolphin Stadium. Manager Manny Acta is hoping to see a different pitcher than the one he saw during the first month and a half of the season. Olsen was often hit hard and behind in the count.

“I need to see more consistency out of him,” Acta said about Olsen. “I want to see the guy that pitched 200 innings for the Marlins. He is supposed to lead these kids. He is the oldest one out of all of them.”

Most people thought that right-handers Jesus Colome or Joel Hanrahan would be designated  for assignment because they have pitched poorly all season. But general manager Mike Rizzo surprised the media by sending Martis down.

In his last two starts, Martis had given up 10 runs in his last 10 innings. He was often behind in the count. Rizzo felt that it was better that Martis straighten himself out in the Minor Leagues.

“It’s about taking care of the young pitchers,” Martis said. “Shairon has to go down and do what got him to the big leagues — pound the strike zone, execute his pitchers and get ahead of the hitters.”

Martis declined to comment. He was being consoled by Colome. 

With Martis out of the picture, right-hander Craig Stammen will now go back into the rotation. He will now pitch against Florida on Tuesday. The original plan was to put him in the bullpen. When approached by the media, Stammen said he didn’t know that he was back in the rotation.

“Oh, cool. That’s the first I heard of it,” Stammen said. “I don’t know what to say. I don’t have much to say. I will do whatever.”

Nationals make minor trade with Mariners

The Nationals made a minor trade on Sunday afternoon, sending outfielder Ryan Langerhans to the Mariners for infielder Mike Mores.

Mores, who will report to Triple A Syracuse, played in 107 games for the Mariners during his career and has a 300 career batting average with three home runs and 33 RBIs.

Langerhans played for Syracuse all season and had a .279 batting average with nine home runs and 40 RBIs.  

Sunday's lineup against Orioles

Harris — 8

Guzman — 6

Johnson — 3

Zimmerman — 5

Dunn — DH

Willingham — 7

Dukes — 9

Hernandez — 4

Nieves — 2

Nationals looking for shortstop

According to a baseball source, the Nationals are looking for a starting shortstop. They feel that Cristian Guzman, who is on the trade block, has lost a few steps with his glove.

The source said the Nationals are alarmed that Guzman is having a difficult time getting ground balls to his left.

The Nationals want young starting pitching in return for Guzman, who has one year left on his contract.

The team doesn’t have to acquire a shortstop — at least for the rest of the season. It can go with Alberto  Gonzalez, who is hitting .326 with a home run and 12 RBIs.         

 

Nats' Stammen headed to bullpen

The Nationals’ bullpen is about to get younger. The team has decided that Craig Stammen, 25, will be a reliever once left-hander Scott Olsen is activated from the disabled list on Monday.

Instead, the Nationals will designate a veteran reliever for assignment. Right-handers Joel Hanrahan and Jesus Colome are the leading candidates to leave the team. Both have been hit hard this season.         

As for Stammen, he will be a reliever for the first time since early last year when he was with Class a Potomac. He said he was happy that he wasn’t going back to the Minor Leagues.

“I wants to stick around as a starter, but Scott has been doing this a while and he deserves to have his spot back,” Stammen said. “I have been in the bullpen before. I did it before in college and I did it in the Minor Leagues.”   

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