July 2010

Valdez named the Eastern League Player of the Week

Double-A Harrisburg outfielder Jesus Valdez has been named the Eastern League Player of the Week ending July 18th. 

Valdez joins Danny Espinosa as the second position player to win the weekly award for the Senators this year.

Valdez had a great beginning to the week, going 1-for-3 with three RBIs and finished the week with a great weekend series against Altoona, going went 8-for-19 with 9 RBIs including a three-run game ending home run on Thursday night.

Overall, for the week Valdez hit .409 with 2 HR and 12 RBI’s and scored eight runs.

He was originally signed as a non-drafted free agent by the Chicago Cubs in 2002. The Nationals signed him as a Minor League free agent on January 5, 2008. This is his first season with the Senators and is hitting .270 with seven home runs and 45 RBI’s. 

Nationals, Marlins starting lineups

Nationals
Morgan-CF
Guzman-SS
Zimmerman-3B
Dunn-1B
Willingham-LF
Bernadina-RF
Kennedy-2B
Nieves-C
Stammen-P

Marlins
Bonifacio-LF
Sanchez -1B
Ramirez-SS
Uggla-2B
Cantu-3B
Ross-CF
Stanton- RF
Paulino-C
Sanabia-P

Twitter poll: What changes would Nats fans make?

On Saturday afternoon, I asked a question to my Twitter followers: When the second half starts, what changes would you like to see the Nats make? Here is what some of them had to say.

@thebrowncoat: Fix Tyler Clippard, please! Play better fundamentals. Play better defense. But I’m not sure how you “fix” that. It may be more of a personnel issue.

@davewordnerd: Send Justin Maxwell away, far away from DC. Figure out what’s wrong with the bullpen. Get more real bullpen pitchers.

@SodaPop6548: I would say the Nats need another catcher, who could give Pudge a few days off here and a good guy at second base.

@PhightinPride: I want to see Mike Morse be an everyday player.

@szul: No team changes. Just play better defense and get those hurt pitchers healthy.

@NatsFanInUK: Need a frontline outfielder and middle infield prospect. Time to peddle vets.

@PearCube: Fewer errors, Stephen Strasburg getting run support and a Jordan Zimmermann appearance. 

@OlkinComm: Nyjer Morgan should not lead off. Actually, he shouldn’t start. Start Bernadina in center and Morse in right.

@tbridge: Figure out the starting rotation. Wang/Zimmermann/Marquis need to audition for their spots, though.

@Kenz_aFan: Add one or two quality starting pitchers, decide on second base, replace Morgan with Bernadina, play Morse more often and replace Jim Riggleman with Davey Johnson.

@Lintyfresh85: Re-sign Adam Dunn, DFA Wil Nieves, find pitchers that have higher K/BB rates. Settle on second base. See if Nyjer is future in center field.

@texpadres: I’m thinking now that the Nats should stay put — mix of vets are already in place. Nats should release Adam Kennedy down stretch.

@TreyEley: Stop blowing leads!

@churchofbasebal: Changes? Stop promoting Strasburg like he’s going to lead the Nats to promised land.

@ghue: Sign some highly regarded international free agents.

@PhillyStanatic: Bernie in center and Morse in right field; Kennedy-trade/DFA; acquire a better backup catcher.

@j_aloysius: More playing time for Michael Morse. Less inconsistency with the lineups.

@zaronow: I would like to see the Nats make the moves that will allow them to contend next season

@TheNinerInsider: I’d like to see them get some their pitchers healthy. And trade Cristian Guzman and/or Kennedy

@skippaaaaah: Pitch Stephen Strasburg every game.
 

Salute to the Troops — Nats style

In honor of US military members, Microsoft and the USO have partnered with the Nationals to host A Salute to Our Troops on Sunday.

The event kicks off with a USO Care Package Party beginning at 9:30 am ET in the Nationals Park Conference Center, where more than 125 volunteers will spend two hours assembling care packages for local military families.

Nationals right-hander Matt Capps and left fielder Josh Willingham will also stop by to participate beginning at 10:45 am.

The volunteers will then head to the Rooftop Party Deck to join more than 250 special guests, including wounded warriors, for a private BBQ reception before the Nationals face the Giants at 1:35 pm. ET

 

Twitter Poll: Should the Nats trade Dunn?

A few hours after Adam Dunn hit three home runs against the Padres, I asked a question to my Twitter followers: Do you think the Nats should trade first baseman Adam Dunn? Yes or No. Why?

Of the 50 people who responded, 46 said Dunn should not be traded. Three people felt the Nats should make a deal for him. One person wasn’t sure. Here is what some of the followers had to say.

@WillFacc: Absolutely not. He is the most feared hitter in our lineup. Can’t replace his RBIs.

@natsboy: They can’t replace him. There are few power bats in all of MLB like him. He should be able to sustain for next few years. The team’s fielding problems should be addressed by upgrading second base and shortstop, not first base.

@CDublin: Re-sign this man for like two more years.

@nat_meg: Why mess up the Nats’ 3-4-5 chemistry? Then again, Dunn is streaky and a new outfielder would be nice.

@PatsNats28: He made Ryan Zimmerman better last year, and Zim, Dunn, and Josh Willingham together are potent. Lock Dunn up at three years,40 million, four years, 48 million, whatever .

@RickandBach: Why? Forty homer guys don’t come around often.

@RHLevitin: Trading Dunn & breaking up the 3-4-5 combo would hurt the Nats more than Nyjer Morgan’s inability to steal bases consistently.

@tdogjuwan: Please don’t trade Dunn.

@donnysamson: Sign Dunn now. 

@bpat007: Of course not. Need to keep fans and Zimmerman happy.

@jcj5y: I think Dunn is worth more to the Nats than any other team, which makes trading him seem like a bad idea.

@szul: Only if they can get a deal equal to his production, which they won’t, so no.

@IBALLZACH: No reason to break up the best 3-4-5 hitting trio in baseball.

@ilovethenats: The team needs another year together, I think

@pbsenerchia: I doubt they will get the value Dunn brings overall, He’s important to this team. Trade Matt Capps, maybe.

@perryspicks: Dunn should not be traded. The Washington Nationals lead the majors in errors and have such a young team. Dunn provides leadership.

@NotRizzo: Only if it makes the Nats better. Otherwise take the 2 draft picks (and 20 more dingers in ’10!)

@tbridge: No, if they can sign him for a good deal. He’s core to the team. 

@Josh_Betts: He is one of the better hitters on your team and it would be hard 2 get a player of equal or  greater value for him. So, no.

@PaulyO7: Take a look at Wednesday’s game. He brings credibility to the Nats offense. Dumb move if traded.

@K_Garb: That’s a hard question. Depends on the return.

@CraigMac: This team will be ready to contend in short order. Pitching is months away from legitimacy. Why set the offense back for years?

@borzoi06: Did you see the three homers? But seriously, too early to trade. Next year or after, possibly, but not now.

@thebrowncoat: They’d have to offer the moon, sun and stars, but yes, I guess theoretically, you should be open to any offer. In reality though, my fear is general manager Mike Rizzo will trade Dunn for way-less than he’s worth.

@jypaulos: Don’t trade Dunn! He’s our Frank Howard. If they keep Dunn, someday the Nationals will be painting a seat white in the right field upper deck. Keep Dunn! 

@KimCinAZ: No!! A) He doesn’t want to. B) Nats fans deserve him. C) 2011 will be awesome with the chemistry/cohesion. He’s big part of it.

@magunwarrior: Hell no, He’s probably the most underrated slugger in the Majors and he wants to stay. I don’t think it’s much of a decision.

@rickyh17: They should not trade him. He’s an important part of the offense and the Nats can’t afford to lose that now. 

@Lintyfresh85: You don’t get better by trading away your second-best player.

@mezza76: Yes, for the Dunn trade. The free agent 1B class is big next year, and the Nats need a good second baseman, outfielder and starting pitching more.

@mlabovich: How will they replace him next year? Where is the big bat going to come from?

Dunn hits three homers vs Padres

First baseman Adam Dunn became the second player in Nationals history to hit three home runs in a game on Wednesday night. The accomplishment came against the Padres at Nationals Park.

The game was tied at 1 in the first inning when Dunn took Jon Garland’s 1-0 pitch and hit a three-run homer over the left center-field wall to increase the lead to 4-1.

Two innings later, after San Diego cut the lead to 4-2, Dunn took the first pitch from Garland and hit his second home run over the left center-field wall to give Washington a three-run lead.

After the Padres cut the led to 6-5 game in the top of the eighth inning, Dunn came to the plate and in the bottom of the inning and hit his third home run of the game on a 2-2 pitch off left-hander Joe Thatcher. 

The last member of the Nationals to hit three home run in a game was outfielder Alfonso Soriano in 2006.

Desmond stays aggressive, not worried about errors

Nationals shortstop Ian Desmond may be a rookie, but one thing is certain: He doesn’t let mistakes bother him. He proved it during a 6-5 victory over the Padres on Tuesday night at Nationals Park.

Take the eighth inning: With the bases loaded and one out, left-hander Sean Burnett induced Oscar Salazar to hit what looked like a perfect double-play ball to second baseman Cristian Guzman, who threw the ball to Desmond for the force. But Desmond threw the ball past first baseman Adam Dunn, allowing Chase Headley to score the fifth run of the game. It was Desmond’s 21st error of the season.

“That’s just me. I hate to say it, but I’m aggressive,” Desmond said. “It’s really hard for me to say, ‘No, don’t make the play.’ That’s something I have to learn up here. I have to make better decisions, I guess. I handled the feed perfectly fine. The throw was wrong.”

But Desmond made up for it in the top of the ninth inning. With a runner on first and closer Matt Capps on the mound, Scott Hairston doubled to left field. Outfielder Josh Willingham threw the ball to Desmond, who then threw a perfect strike to catcher Ivan Rodriguez to nail Jerry Hairston at the plate. 

Ask what he will be thinking about the rest of the night — the error or the great throw he made to the plate — Desmond said he will remember the home run he hit in the fifth inning to give the Nationals a 5-2 lead.

“I really don’t worry about the error. It was an aggressive play,” Desmond said.

Nats sign Orlando Hernandez [Update]

The Nationals have signed right-hander Orlando Hernandez to a Minor League deal, according to a baseball source. Hernandez is the half brother of Washington right-hander Livan Hernandez.

Orlando, who is affectionately known as El Duque, will start a throwing program in Viera, Fla., and then work his way up in the Minor Leagues before being promoted to the big leagues.
Hernandez will be a reliever for the Nationals and report to work on Monday, according to Livan.

“He was looking for a place to pitch,” Livan said. “He is in great shape and he throws every day. I think he is in better shape than anybody in baseball He is unbelievable. He wakes up at 6:00 in the morning and does his thing. He is very professional with that. He has a chance to comeback and pitch.”

This will be Hernandez’s second tenure with the organization. On Jan. 15, 2003, Hernandez was part of a three-team trade that sent him from the Yankees to the Expos. However, he never played a Major League game for the Expos. After pitching one Spring Training game, Hernandez went on the disabled list and then had rotator cuff surgery.

Hernandez, 40, is 90-65 with a 3.72 ERA in nine big-league seasons. He is best known for his years with the Yankees. He helped them win three consecutive World Series titles from 1998  to 2000. He also helped the White Sox win a World Series in 2005. Hernandez’s best season was in 1999, when he went 19-7 with a 4.12 ERA for New York.

Outfielder Willie Harris called Hernandez one of the hardest working baseball players he has ever met. Harris should know, for they won a championship together with the White Sox.

“He is a great guy, leader. He can teach the younger guys how to go about their business in the bullpen,” Harris said. “The thing I remember most about him is that he came in with the bases loaded in Boston  — nobody out — and nobody scored [in Game 3 of the American League Division Series]. You think about that lineup in Boston. He is great guy to have around. Hopefully, I will get a chance to see him.”

The last time Hernandez pitched in the big leagues was in 2007, when he was with the Mets. That year, he was 9-5 with a 3.72 ERA.

MacDougal becomes free agent

Right-hander Mike MacDougal is now a free agent after opting out of his Minor League contract with the Nationals on Thursday.

As a setup man, MacDougal put up respectable numbers for Triple-A Syracuse, going 2-0 with  3.29 ERA and one save. However, the Nats didn’t have any room for him in the Major Leagues because the current relief corps is productive. Entering Thursday’s action against the Mets, Washington relievers have a combined 24 with a 3.49 ERA 

Last season, MacDougal was Washington’s closer, saving 20 games with a 3.60 ERA. He was arbitration eligible after the season, but was non-tendered in December because the team wasn’t sure if he would recover from offseason hip surgery.

MacDougal, 33, then signed with the Marlins and gave up five earned runs in 4 2/3 innings during Spring Training before he was unconditionally released by the club. Less than a week later, MacDougal signed with the Nationals.

With Washington, MacDougal had a deal in his contract that allowed him to become a free agent if he wasn’t promoted to the big leagues by Thursday.

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