Sunday, April 05, 2009
Just before the beginning of yesterday's D.C. Public School Initiative Press Conference, Team President Stan Kasten informed The African Queen and I about the final roster moves to set The 25-Man Roster for Opening Day. When Mr. Kasten told us that both Garrett Mock and Jason Bergmann got optioned to AAA Syracuse, we were pretty shocked and I immediately questioned one of the moves.
"But you full well know that Bergmann did not give up an earned run all spring?--I said. "He did everything asked in his new role out of the bullpen."
Our Team President responded: "That's has merit and has been duly noted (shaking his head up and down in agreement). That very fact has not been lost on anyone, including Mike (Rizzo--Interim GM). Look, it really came down to the numbers game. Julian Tavarez has a rubber arm. He can pitch virtually every single day. Early in the season that's key because we need to protect our starters. Jason Bergmann has a role with this team and nothing he has done this spring has taken away from his effectiveness or our desire to keep him. He had an option. The same with Mock. This was roster decision for now, the immediate future."
Which tells me that Interim General Manager Mike Rizzo wants to build a team that can win Right Now on The Major League Level with more veteran experience--while not wasting valuable resources for when Washington, hopefully soon, turns the corner on winning. How interesting to also note how Our Washington Nationals have changed in the short five weeks since Our Former General Manager Jim Bowen resigned.
Three new pitchers added to The 40-Man Roster: Joe Beimel, Julian Tavarez and Wil Ledezma and a switch hitting catcher with power (Josh Bard). All veterans--not youngsters. And you would have to figure that Beimel and Bard would not be in Washington Uniform's today if JimBo was still picking the roster--at least according to a few reports which have been written over the past month. The only downside move out of all this for us, is the seemingly quick trigger of releasing Shawn Hill, well before he had the chance to actually make the 2009 Roster or not. A preemptive waive of a quality, but often injured, sinker ball specialist that two weeks later has been named to the 5th starter spot for The San Diego Padres. Honestly, we still don't understand that money move over less than $750,000. One of these days, we are going to get someone with Our Washington Nationals to explain that decision to us. In our mind's eyes, it's been duly noted that that decision still doesn't make much sense for the near or long term future of our ballclub--even today.
But nevertheless--Our Washington Nationals open the 2009 Season in South Florida tomorrow with a roster whose age will creep up to an average of 28.6 years over the course of this upcoming year. And a projected starting lineup tomorrow of 28.1 average years of age. Ronnie Belliard (34 Years Old) replacing the injured Anderson Hernandez (26 years old) has added one additional year to Washington's Starting 8's average age.
So it should be also duly noted that Version 5.0 of DC's Team has more veteran presence than youth. Jesus Flores, Anderson Hernandez, Lastings Milledge and Elijah Dukes the only everyday players with less than three full years of Major League Experience. John Lannon, Shairon Martis, Mike Hinckley and Steven Shell the only pitchers with less than two full-years of Major League Experience. This is a team that is built more to win today, not completely biding time--waiting for our future to eventually all arrive at some unknown date.
While The Youth Is Always Our Future--it should not be lost on anyone that Our Washington Nationals are putting the makings of a competitive team out on the field for 2009. Barring major injury or something totally unexpected that hinders or transforms Our Team--expect an exciting and hustling product to compete on the field of play this season in DC. And Game One at Dolphin Stadium against The Florida Marlins on Monday is just the start of 161 more interesting outings to come. Maybe for the first time since The Nation's Capital returned to The Major Leagues in 2005, Washington's starting nine might just be greater than the sum of their collective parts. A good mix of veteran leadership is on board. There is some depth at all fielding positions. The bullpen has been shored up for the short term. Add in some youthful vigor and anyone can go a long way toward building a winning attitude.
While Still Team Building.
And that should be Duly Noted--as well.
PS--I guess Josh Bard didn't get the message about the horrors of wearing Jersey Number 7 for Our Washington Nationals. The Bermuda Triangle of Washington Numbers that has found all takers quickly moving on in their Major League Careers. All expect Roger Bernadina--who was sharp enough to trade his original number 7 to number 2 before the full effects languished and hindered his baseball career. Pete Orr took that number in Spring Training in 2009. All it got him was an early exit from The WBC with Team Canada and a quick ticket to Syracuse for AAA Ball. Brad Wilkerson, Wiki Gonzalez, Felipe Lopez, Nook Logan, Roger Bernadina, Emilio Bonifacio and Orr all have suffered similar fates here wearing that dreaded number. Josh--unless you have luck on your side--take any available number but SEVEN--Please!!