February 2011

Nats agree to terms with 16 international free agents

The Nationals have agreed to terms on professional contracts with 16 international free agents, highlighted by catcher Raudy Read and outfielder Randy Novas.
Read, who was  signed out of the Dominican Republic, is considered a player with great instincts behind the plate. The 17-year-old right-handed hitter has demonstrated a powerful bat with plate discipline.

The right-handed hitting Novas, who is also from the Dominican Republic, has great range in the outfield and has consistently demonstrated power to all fields.  
The Nationals have also signed: left-handed pitchers Joel Barrientos (17, Dominican Republic), Brian Escolastico (18, Dominican Republic) and Hector Silvestre (18, Dominican Republic); right-handed pitchers Anderson Martinez (18, Venezuela), Gilberto Mendez (18, Dominican Republic) and Felix Moscat (20, Dominican Republic); catchers Pedro Severino (17, Dominican Republic) and Jorge Tillero (17, Venezuela); first baseman Arialdi Peguero (18, Dominican Republic); shortstop Yewri Guillen (18, Dominican Republic); third baseman Diomedes Eusebio (18, Dominican Republic); and outfielders Juan de los Santos (17, Venezuela), Wilman Rodriguez (19, Dominican Republic) and Dioncio Rosario (17, Dominican Republic).

Atilano designated for assignment

The Nats designated right-hander Luis Atilano for assignment Wednesday. The move was made after Major League Baseball approved Adam LaRoche’s  contract. Last January, Washington signed LaRoche to a two-year deal. 

As for Atilano, the Nats have 10 days to trade him, reassign him to the Minor Leagues or release him.

Last season, Atilano pitched in 16 games and was 6-7 with a 5.15 ERA for Washington before having surgery to remove bone chips in his right elbow.

Atilano has a history of elbow problems. He had elbow reconstruction a few months before the Nationals acquired him from the Braves for outfielder Daryle Ward in 2006.

In other news: Every Nationals pitcher and catcher reported to Spring Training except for right-handers Elvin Ramirez and Henry Rodriguez, and catcher Carlos Maldonado  All three had visa issues and are expected to report in the next few days.

Twitter Poll: Did Nats have successful offseason?

On Monday afternoon, I asked my Twitter followers this question: Did the Nats have a successful offseason? Yes or No? Why? A lot of the followers responded to this question and the results were mixed. Here is what they had to say. 

@JHell3: Yes. They no longer have the cheapskate image.

@Natss9: Overall, I like what they did. The Nats’ defense is better and the pitchers in the rotation are MLB pitchers. General manager Mike Rizzo tried his best!

@nationalsreview: Defense and starting pitcher are better. The offense is similar, plus Ian Desmond and Danny Espinosa are a year older so they should improve.

@BDadant: I feel they’re one pitcher and one proven bat short. I hope Nyjer Morgan proves me wrong and the current pitching staff does as well.

@thebrowncoat: They tried, but, ultimately, they didn’t quite get there. Lack of a No. 1 starter leaves the rotation with a lot of question marks.

@ZachMyles:  No, because they got worse offensively and the only “front-line starter” they were able to get was Rick Ankiel and he doesn’t pitch anymore.

@WillFacc: Yes. Improved defense, athleticism, long and short relief, kept key youngsters and made leaps by paying a high profile player.

@eenyy820: Even though nobody thinks they can compete with the Phillies, signing Jayson Werth proves they’re committed to building a winner.

@pbsenerchia: The Nats are an improved team, stuck to their principles, didn’t panic, but made moves, got people talking. It will pay off with next year’s free-agent/trade class.

@therealarosen: I’d give them a 6. The Nationals picked up a few above-average position players and a good pitcher. Didn’t land an ace though. The pitching is still shaky.

@CraigMac: The team is better than it was in September. Pitching is an issue with just about every team. Lineup, bench and bullpen are strong.

@CDublin: No. I was hoping for a solid No. 1 pitcher.

@Fazeshiftalec: The Nats’ offseason was a success. They made a splash with Werth and will have a great rotation battle. They will finish third in the East.

@ghue: Absolutely not.

@SodaPop6548: Not really, while we got a few good players, we lost quite a few.

@BigDaddyDemps: The Nationals didn’t get a frontline starting pitcher, were embarrassed by Zack Greinke while overspending for Werth. However, they did good job acquiring Adam LaRoche and trading Josh Willingham. 

@IBALLZACH: I suppose so. They improved their defense, but the main goal of improving the rotation wasn’t reached.

@DArkMEATHOOK: They didn’t re-sign Adam Dunn and didn’t get a top-line starting pitcher. However, that doesn’t mean the Nationals will not have a successful season. It was considered a successful offseason when the Redskins signed Brandon Lloyd, Adam Archuletta and Antwawn Randle El and hired Al Saunders as coach. Look how well that ended.

@DinoFTW: It depends. Pitching wise — no. We are relying on our “young” pitchers. We needed a big-time pitcher. But I also think we picked up some nice pieces from a position standpoint. Our outfielders will be more reliable and our first baseman is a huge upgrade.

@natsnq: In terms of quantity, yes, but the quality of their pick-ups don’t seem to match what was promised.

@jamiemac3: Yes

@Dapple_Juice: They improved the team without depleting the farm system or giving up Desmond and Espinosa

@BDadant: The Nats are you concentrating a lot on pitching. I feel unless Morgan produces, we are going to need another bat.

@HendoDC: No. Too many missed chances. It hurt not to pick up a starting pitcher of the caliber of Jorge De La Rosa or Cliff Lee. Also, postponing the fanfest was understandable but wrong.

@Tbridge: Yes and No. Some good signings, but too many swings and misses. I’ll also second @HendoDC in saying the postponement of Fanfest was not good.

@kevin_reiss: Yes, if you judge by the process. No, if you judge by the outcome.

@Evolution33: They shored up the defense without taking too much of an offensive hit, and the starting pitching should be marginally better.

@gopherballs: No. They failed to address the biggest concern — starting pitching — and were forced to make “frantic” moves late in the offseason.

@jpminter: They upgraded at every “hole” in their lineup. They probably spent a little too much money, but I’m OK with that.

@szul: Yes. They became much more athletic and defense-oriented. Improvements by the middle infielder are key now.

@md_schmidt: Made incremental-plus progress in offense and pitching. Improved defense through subtraction.