Outfielder Justin Maxwell was optioned to Syracuse this morning and will begin the 2010 season with the AAA-Syracuse Chiefs.
Maxwell, 26, played most of the 2009 season with Syracuse and batted .242 with 13 HR’s and 42 RBI in 384 at bats. He also stole 35 bases in 43 attempts. He played for the Nationals on three different occasions during the season batting. 247 with 4 HR’s and 9 RBI in 89 at bats.
The Nationals will hope that Maxwell will dominate AAA pitching in 2010 and rejoin the team for good by mid-season for a final time.
Maxwell joins Jerry Owens, Leonard Davis, Chris Duncan, Mike Daniel and Kevin Mench (still in major league camp) in a crowded Chiefs outfield.
With one week until the start of the 2010 baseball season the Washington Nationals will need to decide who they will take north to DC in the next few days.
Here is our take on the competition:
Pitching: John Lannan, Jason Marquis and Garrett Mock have been announced as three members of the rotation. Craig Stamman has been very good this spring while Livian Hernandez has been okay as well. the skinny: Scott Olsen who is coming back from an injury pitches on Sunday. Stamman or Olsen could start in Syracuse or the Nats could release the veteran Hernandez.
Bullpen: Matt Capps is the closer with Brian Bruney the 8th inning guy. Sean Burnett, the lone lefty in the pen and Tyler Clippard will face lefties. Miguel Batista works as a long man and sometime starter and Jason Bergmann has pitched will enough to provide innings.
Catching: It’s Pudge Rordriquez and Will Nieves with Jesus Flores starting the season on the disabled list.
Infielders: Adam Dunn plays !B, Adam Kennedy is at 2B, Ryan Zimmerman is the 3B. Christain Guzman appears to have proven he can throw and will begin the season as the shortstop. Alberto Gonzalez has hit well enough to be a capable back-up at three infield positions. Mike Morse can play 3B, 1B and the outfield.
The skinny: Ian Desmond returns to Syracuse to play everyday at shortstop. Eric Bruntlett could stick as utility man.
Outfielders: Josh Willingham is in LF, Nyger Morgan in CF, Willie Harris and Willy Taveras look to platoon RF, while Roger Bernadina has hit enough to provide the team with defense and speed off the bench.
The skinny: Bernadina has a leg up on Justin Maxwell for the last spot on the roster.
That’s 24 names we see on the team. The dilemma is do the Nats take 11 or 12 pitchers north. A 12th pitcher Tyler Walker, who has pitched well lately could happen. If not they need to add another infielder/outfielder. Eric Bruntlett has played well all spring and can play both the infield and outfield. Justin Maxwell did not hit enough in spring but can run and is an excellent defensive player. The skinny: The Nats keep Bruntlett and option Walker and Maxwell to Syracuse.
If all this happens what’s in store for the Chiefs. Check back with us a little later on for the Chiefs part of the puzzle.
The offical start of the 2010 baseball season occured today when Lena Blackburne’s Rubbing Mud arrived via federal express to the Syracuse Chiefs offices.
Used to take the shine off a baseball, Lena’s product has been serving professional baseball since 1939. This “baseballs magic mud” is located in Delran, New Jersey.
Directions on the package: Apply small amount of mud to palm of hand. Message onto both palms. Place ball in hand and message throughly. KEEP MOIST is in bold print.
Each night before a game umpire attendant Chris Laurenzo duplicates this process for roughly 6-8 dozen baseballs. He hands the bag of baseballs using Lena’s magic mud to the umpires and baseball can be played for another day.
Something big happended in Syracuse today….Lena Blackburne’s mud arrived.
The Washington Nationals released outfielder Elijah Dukes earlier this week after speing three years in the organization. The Nationals decided that Dukes who struggled this spring would not be in their plans for the future and gave him his unconditional release.
That opens up the rightfield spot for a number of players who are still in camp: Speedy slap hitters Roger Bernadina and Willy Taveras add more speed and defense, while prospect Justin Maxwell can provide excellent defense, speed and has more power.
Veterans Kevin Mench and Chris Duncan also have played well and former Chief Mike Morse has impressed Nats brass with his bat as well this spring.
Stephen Strasburg and Drew Storen both were optioned to AA-Harrisburg on Saturday and will begin the 2010 season with the Senators. Both pitchers were impressive in spring training after being drafted number #1 and number #10 in last season June draft. Strasburg out of San Diego State and Storen from Stanford.
Nationals also optioned lefthanded pitchers Matt Chico and Doug Slaten and catcher Jamie Burke to Syracuse today in another round of cuts. The Nationals currently have 39 players in camp.
With two weeks gone in spring training 2010 the Washington Nationals roster is beginning to take shape. In the spirit of the NCAA field of 65 announcement today we thought we would look at where the Nationals might be with their major league and minor league pitching staffs at this point.
Major League starting rotation: John Lannan and Jason Marquis are locks, while Scott Olsen should be penciled in as the third starter. Craig Stammen coming off late season surgery is good enough for the fourth spot with veterans Livian Hernandez and Miguel Batista are fighting for the 5th spot – that won’t be needed until April 19th due to off days.
Major League bullpen: Matt Capps and Brian Bruney are the back end, while Tyler Clippard and lefty Sean Burnett will pitch early. That leaves Jason Bergmann, who is out of options, and Tyler Walker, who has been hit hard to date to fill out the staff. Batista could be used as well early of if he doesn’t make the rotation. Lefty Ron Villone, a non-roster player and now 41 years old would give them a second lefty out of the pen but right now is the 13 pitcher on a 12 or 11 man staff.
AAA-Syracuse Staff: A good deal of this staff depends on the health and decisions made with Olsen, Batista and Hernandez, but the Chiefs appear loaded no matter what happens.
J.D. Martin, Garrett Mock, Shairon Martis, veteran lefties Matt Chico, Chuck James, Andrew Kown, Collin Balester, Luis Atilano and Aaron Thompson give the team a wealth of depth to choose from. In addtion, where does Stephen Strasburg begin his baseball career?
Bullpen includes: Six lefthanded pitchers are competing for two maybe three spots and include Doug Slaten, Victor Garate, Jesse English – all picked up in the off season, while Nationals prospects Attie Severino, Yunior Novoa and Jack Spradlin return.
From the righthanded side of the bullpen the guy drafted after Stephen Strasburg – Drew Storen has been fantastic in spring training and could begin the season in Washington, but most likley will start in Syracuse with veterans Logan Kensing, Ryan Speier, Joel Peralta, Rafael Martin and Nationals prospect Josh Wilkie giving the Chiefs quality to choose from. The Nats could even move Collin Balester or Luis Atilano to the bullpen – similar to the last seasons experiment with Tyler Clippard that payed off nicely.
That’s 22 names for 12 roster spots – pitching in 2010 looks very strong.
And we haven’t even talked about these guys……
Jeff Mandel 12-6 3.38 ERA – AA/A last season
Eric Arnesen 12-7 3.52 ERA AA/A last season
Brad Meyers 11-3 1.72 ERA AA/A last season
Marcos Frias 9-5 2.91 ERA Single A last season
AJ Morris 0-4 3.38 ERA in Single A last season
Tom Millone 12-5 2.91 ERA in Single A last season
Willie Atwood 8-8 4.61 ERA in Single A last season
These pitchers will likely play in AA this season and earn AAA promotions at some point during the 2010 season.
Pitching is strong in this organization and it’s all coming very fast through Central New York this summer.
Tom Terry, WFTV-9′s chief meteorologist, has spent the last 20 minutes flaunting his new tools. Evidently, Channel 9–the ABC affiliate in Central Florida, just spent wheelbarrows of money on new weather radar. And today, it’s all paid off. Tom and his buddy Brian have been on television since I got back to the hotel room talking about this massive storm to our north. As I was just writing this last sentence, Tom clicked a button and dragged a cone-shaped thing across the radar to the southeast to signify the path of the storm. Tom is very worried about the children in Longwood, Florida. He just advised parents there to pick their children up from the bus stop. I call Tom by his first name because I think we know quite a bit about each other, now.
Tom, by the way, just told me than Channel 9 has teamed up with the National Severe Storm Laboratory. They’ve developed a special computer program to look inside the storm. Maybe we can use it to figure out what’s motivating this thing to ruin the lives of so many.
Now we just left that graphic to check out the Daytona Beach TowerCam. Surprisingly, the lens is covered with water.
Oh boy! Red dots that look like clown noses have appeared on the radar! Tom clicks on a red dot and we are given a probability that the storm will spawn rotation at the location marked by the red dots. There’s a 44% chance that you folks in Apopka will see storm rotation. What does that mean? Heck if I know. But it doesn’t sound good.
You’ve gathered that the game between the Astros and the Nats has been rained out. I spent most of the morning in the rain at the minor-league complex watching the young hitters take some swings in the cage.
Ran into a few familiar faces. John Poppert, last year’s do-everything coach, told me he got married in Pittsburgh in the offseason. Also got a chance to chat with former Chief turned Double-A Harrisburg manager Randy Knorr. He’s excited to be managing again.
Check out Inside Pitch for a conversation with Andrew Kown. He made his Triple-A debut last year in Syracuse. He’s got some interesting things to say about his offseason and the schedule he keeps during Spring Training.
For now, I’m going to go outside to monitor the barometric pressure. Tom would be proud.
Thoroughly enjoyed our afternoon in Florida as we closed out the Spring Training tour by watching the Mets take on the Braves on their home turf at the Wide World of Sports Complex in Disney.
Before I forget, please note that certain words (like “Cheerios” in paragraph three) in this blog post (and my last one for that matter) are gray. If you click on those (or open them in a new tab with CTRL + T), you will see pictures which correspond with words. It’s sorta like a children’s book. Word + picture = recall. The cow says…..moo.
My day started with breakfast at the team hotel. It was a free breakfast, so I expected something decent. I couldn’t complain. I had two muffins and a few cups or orange juice. I was just about comfortable with the amount I ate, but cereal was going to be the coup de grace (This is not to be confused with the coup de tat. That’s where the Frosted Flakes seize the waffle machine and all of its batter in a rush of strategic genius.)
So, I walked over to the Cheerios, grabbed a bowl and looked for the milk. One white jug of 2% and…..another white jug of 2%. Come on. Drinking 2% milk is like cleaning out your refrigerator. It’s disgusting and there’s always someone else who enjoys what’s found while doing it.
With zero cereal in me, I hit I-528 west and zipped over to Orlando to meet the Simones. With the Nationals all the way in Jupiter to play the Cardinals, we decided to take in the Braves and the Mets at the Wide World of Sports Complex at Disney. In the first two innings, we saw six runs, former Toledo Mud Hen Mike Hessman, former Pawtucket Red Sock, Minnesota Viking and X-Files Creator Chris Carter (who hit a torpedo of a homer against Derek Lowe) and former Charlotte Knights Manager Razor Shines. Some of the stars were resting.
In the third inning, I was lured by a concession stand selling slushies. The flavors available were cherry, lemonade and mixed. I–like anyone else with the sensory systems of a teething four-year-old–chose “mixed” in a heartbeat. Problem, though. I was second in line. The father, daughter and granddaughter trio in front of me couldn’t decide what they wanted. They chose an order of churros and a cheesesteak for a main course without much hesitation. The drink was the sticking point. The granddaughter asked for a sweet tea. Vendor said no. I was a little frustrated, but I thought it was ultra-cute that the tiny red-headed kid ordered a sweet tea at the equivalent of a hot dog cart.
Then, the girl picked “water.” Woman at the cart: “We don’t have any, sorry.” You don’t have water? Is this baseball competition happening in Khartoum? Thankfully, the daughter spied a bottled beverage stand adjacent and took Picky Orphan Annie with her.
It wasn’t over, though. No no. The patriarch of the family got his Churros and almost instantaneously erupted a fit of rage. Seriously, he went emotionally from 0 to 60 in about 1.5 seconds.
Man (fiercely): There are only two Churros here.
Woman at cart: That’s what an order is.
Man (angrily): The menu says three. I know I read somewhere that you get three!
Woman: No sir, two.
Man (screaming, now): The sign, here, it shows three!!!!
The guy didn’t get his Churros. Was he in the right? Does he have a valid claim of false advertisement? Is the representation more prominent than the writing? You be the judge.
Tomorrow, Nats and Astros. Keep an eye out here, on youtube.com/syracusechiefs and on our homepage.
The first appearance by Washington Nationals pitcher Stephen Strasburg was greeted by over 5000 Florida visitors, Mark Lerner, the team’s principal owner, MASN Television crew that included Bob Carpenter and Rob Dibble and former Knicks and Houston Rockets basketball coach Jeff Van Gundy who sat behind home plate with an Orlando Magic hat on.
Ever wonder what it was like to watch Mozart play the piano at age six?
Stephen Strasburg tossed some pretty memorable pitches today (just ask the radar gun ). He threw two scoreless innings and struck a couple of batters out–Miguel Cabrera on a fastball at 98 and Brent Dlugach on a lethal curveball.
Strasburg did allow two hits, the first of which came from an ’09 Toledo Mud Hen, Don Kelly. The young man from Tony Gwynn’s San Diego State program, though, was generally confounding to both Tigers and electronics.
Clubhouse highlight of the day: A reporter from the Far East asked Strasburg after his start, “What do you think of your new teammate, Chien-Ming Wang?” Collectively lacking a nose for symmetry, the horde of reporters neglected to rush to Wang to ask his opinion of his young comrade from America.
On a personal note, I have eaten dinner at two separate locations so far–with many still yet unexplored. I’m heartened that this city stands by its motto.
Persona non grata of the day: This guy. Remember who came after The Beatles on Ed Sullivan? Me neither.
Check out Inside Pitch for a conversation with Tim Foli and postgame comments from Stephen Strasburg and our YouTube page for video coverage .
Sat with Justin Maxwell’s better half during the ninth inning. They’re expecting another child (a girl) in April. Congrats to them.
Will Dogen come back to life tonight? Is Kate dead? Do any of you embrace Lost like I do?