October 2009

Henley to be Minor League field coordinator

The Nationals have decided that Bobby Henley will be their Minor League field coordinator for the 2010 season.

He spent last season as the manager for the Gulf Coast Nationals and Spring Training catching coordinator. Henley was even an extra coach for the Major League club in September of 2006.

What does the promotion for Henley mean for Tim Foli, who was offered the job last month? He could go be back as manager of Triple-A Syracuse or he could have a permanent position as a Major League coach. He spent the last month of the ’09 season as an extra bench coach.  

Foli and general manager Mike Rizzo were not available for comment. 

Managerial search getting underway for Nats

Nationals general manager Mike Rizzo said Thursday that the search for a new manager will be in full swing soon. He also said there is a possibility the skipper may not be named until the postseason is over.

Rizzo has spent most of the offseason revamping the front office. Recently, the Nationals named Roy Clark vice president of player personnel, Johnny DiPuglia director of Latin American operations and Doug Harris director of player development. The team also promoted Kris Kline to director of scouting.

“The managerial search is going to begin a little bit more seriously in the very near future,” Rizzo said. “But I wanted to make sure we got these vital hirings in the front office as the first part of putting our plan in place.” 

Rizzo said interim manager Jim Riggleman is still a strong candidate to remain the manager. During the second half of the season, the Nationals went 33-42 under Riggleman.

“We are [getting ready] to make phone calls, cutting down a long list into a smaller list and discuss with specific people about the managerial job,” Rizzo said. “Like I said in the past, we have a terrific in-house candidate in Jim Riggleman, who has as good a chance as anybody to becoming the manager for the Washington Nationals. The search is going to begin a little more seriously in the very near future.”

Besides Riggleman, Chip Hale, Bob Melvin and Bobby Valentine most likely will get interviews. Another person the Nationals may look at is Dave Duncan, who is currently the pitching coach of the Cardinals. However, there are reports that Duncan most likely will return to St. Louis.

Through his representative, Burton Rocks, Riggleman said he was aware the Nationals were going to take care of the front office before searching for a manager.

“Mike had told Jim of his plan to revamp the front office first,” Rocks said. “Jim just wants the process to play out. Obviously, at the end of the day, Jim really enjoyed working for Mike and [team president] Stan Kasten. Jim wants to be a part of the entire Nationals family.” 

Clark, DiPuglia, Harris join Nationals

The Nationals named Roy Clark vice president of player personnel, Johnny DiPuglia director of Latin merican operations and Doug Harris director of player development. The team also promoted Kris Kline to director of scouting.

Clark joins the Nationals after an impressive 11-year run as director of scouting with the Braves. Clark joined the Braves as an area scout in 1989, and he later enjoyed successive stints as Atlanta’s southeast supervisor (1995) and national supervisor (1996-99).

Clark efforts helped the Braves earn Baseball America’s prestigious Organization of the Year award three times (1991, 1996, 2005) and USA Today’s Organization of the Year citation in 1996. Clark sports a World Series ring from the Braves’ 1995 World Championship campaign.

Clark is best known for having procured talents such as catcher Brian McCann, right-hander Tommy Hanson, shortstop Yunel Escobar and right-hander Kevin Millwood.

DiPuglia joins his fourth big league organization with his Nationals appointment. DiPuglia spent the previous 10 seasons working in the Red Sox scouting department, the last four as Boston’s Latin American Scouting Coordinator. While in that position, he was responsible for coverage in the Dominican Republic, Venezuela, Panama, Mexico, Curacao, Nicaragua, Aruba, as well as all of Central and South America. He earned World Series rings while with the Red Sox in 2004 and 2007.

DiPuglia, who also enjoyed stints with the Giants and Cardinals organizations, signed or had a hand in the signings of shortstop Hanley Ramirez, second baseman Placido Polanco, outfielder Rick Ankiel, right-hander Anibal Sanchez.

Harris carries 20 seasons of baseball experience as a player, amateur scout and professional scout into his new role with the Nationals. He spent last season as a Major League Scout/Advance Scout with Cleveland after a 12-year tenure with Texas in various scouting capacities. Harris played seven professional seasons in three organizations.

Kline earned the Director of Scouting promotion after spending his initial three seasons in Washington as Assistant Scouting Director/National Crosschecker (2009) and Western Crosschecker (2007-08).

A scout for 20 seasons, Kline joined the Nationals in the fall of 2006 after spending the previous seven seasons with Arizona, the last three of which were spent as the Diamondbacks’ Western Supervisor.

Kline earned a World Series ring in 2001 as the Diamondbacks topped the Yankees in seven games. Before joining the Diamondbacks, Kline worked 10 seasons scouting for the Angels after completing his four-year professional playing career.

Kris Kline becomes scouting director

The Nationals have decided that Kris Kline will be their scouting director, replacing Dana Brown, who is now the Blue Jays’ special assistant to the general manager.

An announcement regarding Kline is expected to be made sometime on Thursday.
The news comes less than a day after Roy Clark told the Braves he was going to join the Nationals as assistant general manager.

Together, Clark, Kline and general manager Mike Rizzo will be the go-to guys regarding the 2010 First-Year Player Draft.

This past season, Kline was the team’s assistant scouting director and national crosschecker.

Kline and Rizzo were not available for comment.  

Rooney replaces Norris in AFL

The Nationals have decided that catcher Sean Rooney will replace catcher Derek Norris in the Arizona Fall League this season.

The switch-hitting Rooney, the eighth-round pick in the 2006 First-Year Player Draft, hit a combined .275 with six home runs and 46 RBIs for Class A Hagerstown and Potomac this past season.        

Norris fractured his left hamate bone while working out in the Instructional League. Norris had surgery performed by Dr. Thomas Graham in Baltimore to remove the fractured hamate bone last week. Norris is expected to resume baseball activities in December.

Roy Clark joining Nationals; MacDougal has surgery

I just received a call from Braves reporter Mark Bowman of MLB.com. He has confirmed that that Roy Clark is leaving the Braves as their scouting director and joining the Nationals as a assistant general manager.

Clark will help general manager Mike Rizzo and assistant scouting director Kris Kline with the 2010 First Year Player Draft. The Nationals did not confirm the hiring of Clark.

In other news, closer Mike MacDougal had arthroscopic surgery on his right hip on Tuesday. The surgery was performed by Dr. Marc Philippon in Vail, Colorado. MacDougal should begin a throwing program in six to eight weeks and should be fully recovered by Spring Training.

MacDougal had problems with the hip since late August, but pitched until the end of the season. In 52 games for the Nationals, MacDougal saved 20 games and had a 3.60 ERA.

Dana Brown leaving Nats; Moose Stubing let go

In a surprising move, Dana Brown is leaving the Nationals as an amateur scouting director and will join the Blue Jays to become a special assistant to general manager Alexander Anthopoulos.

An announcement is expected to be made as early as Monday. The move is considered a promotion for Brown. Anthopoulos and Brown have known each other since their days with the Expos. In fact, it was Brown who hired Anthopoulos to work in the scouting department in 2002.  

Earlier last week, the Blue Jays received permission from the Nationals to talk to Brown, who is credited for drafting pitchers Stephen Strasburg, Jordan Zimmermann and John Lannan.

Brown, general manager Mike Rizzo, team president Stan Kasten were not available for comment.

According to a baseball source, Kris Kline, who is currently the assistant scouting director, most likely will get a promotion. The Nationals are also talking to Braves scouting director Roy Clark. If he decides to join the Nationals, Clark more than likely will help Kline and Rizzo run the draft.

In other news, the Nationals have relieved Moose Stubing of his duties as special assistant to the general manager. No reason was given why he was let go.

Nationals dismiss Cedeno, Gale, Stearns

The Nationals continue to dismiss people from their farm system. They recently let John Stearns, Rich Gale and Cesar Cedeno go.

This past season, Stearns was the manager of Double-A Harrisburg, while Gale was the pitching coach for Triple-A Syracuse and Cedeno was a coach for the Gulf Coast Nationals.

No reason was given as to why they were let go. 

Stearns, who joined the Nationals in 2006, guided the Senators to a 70-72 record. Gale started the season with Class-A Hagerstown, but ended the season in Syracuse after Steve McCatty was promoted to the big leagues.

Cedeno came to the Nationals in 2008 on the recommendation of former Nationals manager Manny Acta. Cedeno was a baserunning and outfield coach.

Cardenal dismissed by Nationals

Jose Cardenal was informed Thursday morning that he has been dismissed by the Nationals. Cardenal, who was the special advisor to the general manager since the 2005 season, was given the news by assistant general manager Bob Boone.  

Cardenal said he didn’t have any hard feelings toward the organization, knowing that general manager Mike Rizzo wanted to bring in his own people.

Hired by then general manager Jim Bowden after the 2004 season, Cardenal spent the last five seasons roving around the Nationals’ Minor League system, teaching position players how to play the outfield the right way. He also advised Bowden on which players to promote to the Major Leagues.

“If you are a baseball person, you know that it’s going to happen with the new GM coming up and them wanting to clean house,” Cardenal said. “They knew I was close to Jim. I have nothing but positive things to say. The Lerner family treated me well.”

Boone and Rizzo were not available for comment.  

Cardenal plans to stay busy. He wants to legally bring Cuban players to the United States and play professional baseball. Cardenal, who is from Cuba, came to the United States legally in the early 1960s and had a respected career in the big leagues, hitting .275 with 175 home runs and 775 RBIs in 18 years.

“My plan is to go to my country and try to see if I could start something if possible,” he said. “That’s going to be my next dream, to bring players from Cuba to the United States [legally].”

Guzman, Norris to have surgery

Nationals shortstop Cristian Guzman will have his right shoulder scoped on Thursday. The procedure will be performed by Dr. Wiemi Douoguih at The Washington Hospital Center in Washington, DC.

Guzman has been hampered by shoulder problems for over a month. Guzman said the shoulder grew worse when he twice threw to home plate against the Dodgers on Sept. 24. 
Guzman did not the play shortstop for the rest of the season and was regulated to pinch-hitting duties.

Once he is healthy, Guzman more than likely will be the everyday second baseman. His career as a shortstop with Washington is over. The team feels he doesn’t have enough range to play the position.     

In other news, catcher Derek Norris fractured his left hamate bone while working out in the Instructional League. He will have surgery performed by Dr. Thomas Graham in Baltimore to remove the fractured hamate bone Thursday.

He is expected to be able to resume baseball activities in December. Norris was the Nationals’ Minor League Player of the Year this past season.