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Stan Kasten Resigns from Washington Nationals Effective at End of Season


With his college aged son sitting beside him on the top ledge of the Washington Nationals dugout, curly W’s adorning the wall, Nats President Stan Kasten confirmed to the media that he would be resigning, effective at the end of this season.

He said at the beginning of his statements that he would talk today about his experiences with the team, and how and why his resignation came about, but preferred not to discuss his future plans, or go into any details about where he sees the team today or the progress in the organization, outside of very broad ideas.

He promised that he would talk about those things in more detail when the season was over, but for now, he wanted to confirm the news of his resignation and then “get back to baseball.”

“When I came here…in 2006, I made a commitment to stay for five years, through the end of the 2010 season.  About a year ago or so, I went to the family and told them I would not be staying beyond that five year commitment.  So what I’m here to tell you today is that I’ll be leaving the Nats at the end of the season.”

“Let me assure you:  This is just about me.  This has nothing to do with anybody else, or anything else, this is just about me.  What’s good for me, for my family, and my own personal expectations, goals, aspirations.  Purely that, and nothing else.”

“Leaving here is going to be hard.  But the decision to leave was not hard. It was just the right thing to do now.”

He stressed several times that any rumors or reports that there was a rift with ownership regarding financial support for the organization were absolutely inaccurate.

“I have a great relationship with the Lerners. We had really good talks, but at the end this was clearly what I wanted to do.  They have been great.  Yes, I think they would have been really happy for me to stay, but this is the right thing.”

Kasten expressed a strong feeling that he really felt ingrained in the community, and cited several prominent D.C. officials as friends.

“There’s going to so much that I’m going to miss.  First of all, I love DC.  I truly do.  I love living here, I love working here.  The people that I have met here along the way have been exceptional.”

 For the rest of Kasten’s comments, please visit Nats News Network.

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Washington Nationals: Decision to Re-Sign Adam Dunn About Money, Not Defense

Let’s get one thing straight shall we fair readers?

Whether or not the Washington Nationals re-sign Adam Dunn has almost nothing to do with his defensive ability, contrary to what anyone at The Washington Post—whether it’s Thomas Boswell, Adam Kilgore, or this guy—might have to say about Dunn’s iron glove.

It’s all about the money.

More precisely, it’s about the money and years on the contract.

I’m certainly not knocking the guys at the Post. Bless the mainstream guys, they’re buying what the team is selling right now about their “defensive philosophy” and distributing that message to the masses. The team needs to gain a sympathetic ear with those fans when they fail to re-sign Dunn when he hits the free-agent market this off-season, accepting a four-year deal from either the White Sox or Yankees.

And it’s a lot easier to convince those fans that the player has a fatal flaw, essentially blaming the player for his shortcomings.

But it ain’t the truth.

Dunn’s camp—rightfully so—sees this as his last big payday.  They know that several teams lust after Dunn’s powerful left-handed bat, and will pay him to put his glove away. They also know, along with the baseball scholars, that Dunn’s career will follow one of two paths the next couple of years. 

Either Dunn continues to slug homers and drive in runs at a rate so prodigious he’ll be mentioned as one of the top three or four power hitters of his generation, or he’ll fall off the map so fast your head will spin.

I wrote about this back in July when Dunn’s name featured prominently on the trading block, and now watching the big guy struggle for the second straight season during the dog days, the debate has become even more focused.

Dunn’s supporters will tell you he has hit 35-plus home runs in each of the last seven years and could post a career-high batting average this season. Dunn’s detractors will tell you his homers, walks, and On-base percentage have all dropped the last three seasons and he has disappeared two August/Septembers in a row.

Both are correct. It’s Nationals’ GM Mike Rizzo’s job to figure out which trend will continue.

If Rizzo is confident that Dunn will follow the career path of Jim Thome, blasting 35-plus homers for the next four years, by all means he should lock up the slugger to provide a middle-of-the-order presence to take pressure off Ryan Zimmerman (signed only through 2013 himself) and Bryce Harper, once the prodigy makes his debut, probably in 2012.

However, if Rizzo sees the decline in yearly stats and consecutive late season slumps and envisions Richie Sexson or Mo Vaughn, then he should run—not walk—away from any long-term deal and wish Dunn vaya con dios.

It’s true Dunn has been one of the game’s biggest run producers in his career, and that descriptions of his defensive abilities range from “improving” to “one of the worst fielders in the game,” depending on whom you wish to listen too.  But comments about his defense being the reason the Nats will or won’t re-sign Dunn are a red herring.

Please visit Nats News Network to find out why.

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Washington Nationals: Have They Quit on Their Season…and Manager?

The Washington Nationals have 19 games remaining in the 2010 season.  If they win three of them, they will avoid losing 100 games for the third straight season.  It’s little solace for Nats fans that harbored illusions of a wild-card berth when the team got off to a 20-15 start.

Since then, the Nats have gone 40-68, a .370 winning percentage.  All those losses make for a long season, and if you pile on Stephen Strasburg’s injury, Nyjer Morgan’s bouts of immaturity, and Adam Dunn‘s looming contract status, one could understand if this Nationals team continues to limp down the stretch, playing out the string in another miserable season record-wise.

It’s human nature to underperform in unpleasant working conditions, but Nats fans don’t want to hear that after they were promised at the beginning of the season that this year was “about results.”  Fans are tired of hearing the same platitudes heaped upon the opposing starting pitcher, and the “we played hard” mantra night after night after night.

After Sunday’s loss—No. 83 on the season—a 6-5 decision to the Florida Marlins, manager Jim Riggleman held an “All Hands On Deck” meeting with his players and coaches.  It’s something he’s done before this season, but after what the thought was a lackluster effort from his squad, he felt like he needed to get some thing out in the air.

“I just thought our energy level, our body language early in the game, was not up to the standards it’s going to take for us to be a ballclub that goes to the next level. I just didn’t feel like we were getting after it early,” Riggleman said.

He asked for input from his coaching staff as well, and described the meeting to reporters after the game.  “This is what I see, this is what the coaches see, this is what (general manager) Mike (Rizzo) sees, this is what the fans see, so if anybody in the room thought that was acceptable, then they need to be made aware that we certainly don’t think it’s acceptable.”

While the words were appropriate given the situation, and the sloppy play against the Marlins—and five consecutive losses—one has to wonder if they were effective to their intended audience.

But has this group of players already tuned him out?  Riggleman actually said in his postgame press conference, “Sometimes when the same person keeps giving the message, it starts to fall on deaf ears.”

Seven-plus months, and a 162-game schedule makes for a very long season.  But how many times do you need to remind players that are playing for their jobs to play hard?

“I think the losing wears on you, but it’s a 162-game schedule, it’s a nine-inning ballgame,”Riggleman said. “That’s what you sign up for, that’s what you give.”

Riggleman then gave an unsolicited critique of the situation in the Nationals clubhouse.

To hear his critique, please visit Nats News Network.

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Washington Nationals OF Nyjer Morgan Doesn’t Understand Why He’s Suspended

Courtesy of Bill Ladson at, here were Nyjer Morgan‘s comments this afternoon upon learning about his eight-game suspension for “three separate incidents” in the past week, including clipping St. Louis Cardinals catcher Bryan Anderson instead of touching home plate, exchanging expletives with fans in Miami after bowling over Florida Marlins catcher Brett Hayes—ending his season with a separated shoulder—on Tuesday night, and the resultant brawl Wednesday night: 

“Man, they threw the book at me.  What did I do? I feel I haven’t done anything. They are blowing this way out of proportion because I’m a hard-nosed player—because I knocked over a catcher. They throw the ball at me. Come on, what am I supposed to do? I have to take this and try to keep playing.

I feel I haven’t done anything wrong expect for playing the game hard and play the game like it’s supposed to be played. Wow. I don’t know what else to say. It’s just a fact that people are blowing this way out of proportion. I don’t think you should be suspended for hitting a catcher…I don’t understand what I did wrong to get an eight-game suspension. They make it seem like I’m Mike Tyson.”

Morgan has appealed this current suspension, since he is in Friday night’s lineup (hitting leadoff, no less), and he has appealed the pending seven-game suspension for throwing a ball into the stands in Philadelphia, injuring a patron. His original hearing was scheduled for Tuesday, but has been pushed to next Friday, presumably so they can handle both cases.

The league can’t appreciate Morgan making these further statements in the press, and it certainly won’t help him in the hearing.

Morgan should consider himself fortunate that he “only” got eight games. 

Marlins pitcher Alex Sanabia got five for his part, and the video shows him throwing a couple punches on the bottom of the pile and then getting tossed around like a rag doll by Adam Dunn.  If Morgan got just three more games than Sanabia, with the Cardinals incident and the yelling at fans incident lumped in, Morgan is lucky he didn’t get two weeks.

It amazes me that Morgan appears so clueless to not realize what he’s done, unless this is still part of this “underdog tough guy” act. I also wonder why his agent hasn’t taken it upon himself to shut his client up.

But I suppose it shouldn’t surprise me.

Find out why it shouldn’t surprise anyone at Nats News Network.

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Washington Nationals’ Stephen Strasburg Needs Tommy John Surgery

The Washington Nationals announced this morning that Stephen Strasburg has a “significant tear” in the Ulner Collateral Ligament in his right elbow and will “probably” have Tommy John surgery, pending a second opinion from Dr. Lewis Yocum, an expert in the procedure.

The typical rehabilitation time from this type of procedure is 12 to 18 months.

“We’ve got the dry MRI, we’ve got the MRI arthrogram, we’ve got two different doctor’s opinions,” General Manager Mike Rizzo said. “We feel it should be a typical Tommy John rehabilitation, and this is going to be no different.”

The surgery and resulting rehab will likely completely rob Strasburg of his 2011 season, but the list is long of pitchers that have had this procedure to return to previous or better results. Regardless, this is devastating news to legions of Nats fans, and baseball fans in general.

Team doctors who performed both MRIs on Strasburg believe it was an acute injury, sustained last Saturday in a game against the Philadelphia Phillies. Strasburg threw a change-up to OF Domonic Brown and winced in pain, calling for the trainers immediately after feeling pain in his elbow and forearm.

NatsTown has been in a daze since, waiting for the two words no one wanted to hear: Tommy John.

“It’s a tough day for him and for all of us, for everyone who’s a Nats fan,” team president Stan Kasten said on the conference call with reporters this morning. “But we saw Jordan [Zimmermann] come back last night. A year from today, Stephen will be joining him.”

RHP Jordan Zimmermann made his return to the mound last night 12 months and two weeks from his Tommy John surgery date. It’s now consecutive years that the Nats have lost their top pitching prospect to an elbow injury requiring Tommy John surgery.

“The team is confident though that the handling of Strasburg’s development was proper and industry standard. It’s frustrating, because this happens to people you think it shouldn’t happen to,” Rizzo said.

“This player was developed and cared for the correct way. Things like this happen. Pitchers break down. Pitchers get hurt. We’re satisfied with the way he was developed. I know Scott Boras [Strasburg’s agent] was satisfied with the way he’s been treated, and Stephen is also. We’re good with that.”

“Frustrated, yes. Second-guessing ourselves, no.”

Strasburg’s rookie campaign ends with a 5-3 record, 2.91 ERA and 92 strikeouts in 68 innings. His K/9 rate was the highest in the MLB for starting pitchers.

Strasburg was obviously disappointed in the diagnosis, but Kasten said he’s already determined to come back better than 100 percent.

“He was upset Monday,” Kasten said. “This is tough news for a kid with this kind of future and the high expectations he puts on himself. This is a high-achievement oriented kid.”

Strasburg did not address the media, but the team hopes to make him available soon.

Some of the biggest names in baseball have had the same procedure: Former Cy Young winner Chris Carpenter, the Braves’ Tim Hudson and Billy Wagner, the Yankees’ A.J. Burnett, the Cubs’ Ryan Dempster, the Twins’ Francisco Liriano and the Giants’ Brian Wilson all are among the names of Tommy John recipients who came back at a high level.

Nationals fans take little solace in those words, though.  It’s somewhat ironic that the Nats found out that Strasburg needs surgery on the same day they introduced their 2010 No. 1 overall pick, OF Bryce Harper, to the fans and media at Nationals Park. According to Rizzo and Kasten, Strasburg requested the announcement be delayed until after Harper’s big day.

Any goodwill generated from yesterday’s festivities has certainly been quashed with the sobering news that the “Greatest Pitching Prospect Ever” will miss the next 12 to 18 months. It’s entirely possible that the next time Strasburg takes the mound, the 17-year old Harper might actually be challenging for a spot on the roster.

And it certainly casts a pall over any negotiations with Adam Dunn and any other possible free agent over the offseason. It’s questionable at this point, without Strasburg to lead the pitching staff, whether it makes sense to sink big dollars into players for next season or to wait until the offseason before 2012 when Strasburg hopefully makes his triumphant return.

Regardless, this diagnosis opens up plenty of questions for Kasten and Rizzo about the franchise moving forward. What should have been an offseason full of possibilities now turns into more waiting.

For more coverage of Strasburg’s injury and Harper’s introduction, please visit Nats News Network.

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Will Adam Dunn Re-Sign With The Washington Nationals (Part One)?

Today is Part One of a two part series.  We’ll examine what the roster will look like with — and without — Adam Dunn next season, and try to predict the additional moves that would accompany both decisions.  Part Two will post Monday.

Say the Nationals re-sign Adam Dunn…

Does that mean the team expects to be competitive next season?

There’s been a rash of “What will the Nats roster look like in 2012?” going around since signing Bryce Harper with the No. 1 overall draft pick, but what about next year? 

Does General Manager Mike Rizzo think he has the horses to make some noise next year, after finishing this season 10 games or so better than last (barring a monumental September collapse)?

They’ll have to make another 10-plus win jump next year too to get into the conversation.

Let’s take a look at how the team will line up next season, assuming Rizzo hands Dunn a three-year contract, and the big fella accepts it.

The team is set in the infield: Ryan Zimmerman, Ian Desmond, a combo of Adam Kennedy (whose option the Nats will surely pick up) and Danny Espinosa at second base, with Dunn at first and utility man Alberto Gonzalez backing everyone up.

The outfield is muddled. Josh Willingham is team-controlled one more year so expect him to be back. That’s where the certainty ends. 

You have to figure the team would like to get by with either Nyjer Morgan or Roger Bernadina platooning with a right-handed hitter in center. 

What we’re left with is the great right field debate.

Michael Morse is proving to be exposed as an everyday player. He can still be a useful bat off the bench and against lefties. So the team needs to find a left-handed hitting starting right fielder, preferably with some pop, and on a two-year contract (so as not to block one Bryce Harper).

Catcher is set with Ivan Rodriguez. He will bring his .280 OBP out for another season as he slogs his way to 3000 hits, and hopefully Wilson Ramos gets three starts a week to slow Pudge’s efforts down.

Rotation: Surprisingly, this should be fairly easy. How about Stephen Strasburg, Jordan Zimmermann, Yuneski Maya, John Lannan and Jason Marquis? 

As bad as Marquis has been this season, the team signed him to a two-year deal and he’ll be given every opportunity in spring training to win a rotation spot.

There are plenty of other candidates for that fifth spot anyway, and a typical team goes through half a dozen guys rotating in-and-out of the bottom of the rotation every season. 

If Marquis can’t answer the bell in March, he’s a sunken cost and the Nats cut bait and go with a younger arm. If all else fails, there’s Livan Hernandez (shudder).

The bullpen is always an interesting topic of debate. Drew Storen is the cost-controlled closer every team dreams of. After that, you figure Tyler Clippard and Sean Burnett will return as the primary setup men. 

All the rest of the pen is fluid with several candidates to return, but if Rizzo thinks he’s going to be seriously competitive, he’ll want to find a legitimate left-handed specialist.

At least manager Jim Riggleman will be here to kick around again, at least to start the season.

So what will the batting order look like next season under this scenario?

Please visit Nats News Network to read more.

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Bryce Harper Joins Washington Nationals: Now What?

So Bryce Harper signed a major league deal with the Washington Nationals worth $9.9 million last night before the midnight deadline.


But what does it mean?

To start with, it means he had to be placed on the 40-man roster, and that happened today with Luis Atilano being transferred to the 60-day disabled list.  He wasn’t going to return this season after surgery on his elbow to remove bone chips.

The team will have Harper in next week’s homestand to meet the media and the major league staff; he’ll probably work out as well. Don’t expect him to be taking any batting practice while the gates are open, though.

After that, it’s off to Viera, FL, home of the Nats minor league complex to work out, and perhaps get in a few Gulf Coast League games before the season ends on August 28th. If the team feels like he’s ready, they could then send him out to a minor league assignment for a week or so.

Once the season ends, Harper will go to the Nats Florida Instruction League, where they send their best prospects for intensive workout and training, and perhaps—General manager Mike Rizzo was non-committal about this last night—he could even be assigned to the Arizona Fall League, which is the annual showcase for the top young talent in the major leagues.

Then, since he has the major league contract, he’ll be invited to big league spring training to get a taste of that before spending next season in the minor leagues, instead of his senior year of high school.

But that’s logistics.

What do yesterday’s signings—all four of them—mean to the big picture?

Read the rest at Nats News Network.

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Washington Nationals’ Stephen Strasburg Makes Fourth Triple-A Start

In his first three Triple-A starts, Stephen Strasburg did not allow a runearned or otherwisewhile blowing away the more seasoned hitters in the highest minor league.

Monday night, in what promises to be one of his last tune-ups for his major league duty, Strasburg got into trouble in two straight innings, allowing a pair of runs, including the first earned run against him in Triple-A.He ended up going just five innings and 52 pitches, his shortest outing since his promotion to Syracuse.

Strasburg mowed through the first inning on seven pitches, five for strikes, sitting the Toledo Mud Hens down 1-2-3.  The big right-hander gave up a single in the second, but stranded the runner without advancement.

In the third, however, leadoff hitter Deik Scram (seriously) grounded a ball down the first base line that went into the corner for a triple.  Strasburg was able to retire the next two batters, but a 94 MPH sinking fastball got past catcher Devin Ivany, hitting the catcher in the foot, and the ball caromed to the wall allowing Scram to scramble in to score an unearned run on a passed ball.

The fourth inning presented the biggest challenge Strasburg has faced since putting on a Syracuse Chiefs uniform.

Carlos Guillen, on an injury rehab assignment from the Detroit Tigers, seemed to rattle Strasburg.  On an 0-1 pitch, Guillen stepped out of the box just before Strasburg delivered his pitch.  Strasburg seemed taken aback, and the next pitch was low and inside to Guillen, who had to step back from the offering.Strasburg really wasn’t the same pitcher after the exchange.

Guillen laced the next pitch to right field for a single.  One out later, Jeff Frazier doubled to the left field corner on a change-up Strasburg left up in the zone, putting runners at second, and third. Casper Wells then hit a slow bouncer through the hole between short, and third to bring in Guillen.Strasburg bore down, and got a called strike three to end the inning, then had a 1-2-3 fifth inning.

And with that, Syracuse pitching coach Greg Booker informed Strasburg his night was over, to hisand everyone else in attendance’ssurprise.Strasburg’s final line: 5 IP, 5 H, 2 R, 1 ER, 5 K, 0 BB. 52 pitches, 36 strikes.

It was an abrupt, and slightly strange end to his fourth Triple-A start.  With his major league promotion looming, conventional wisdom would have Strasburg pitching longer, stretching him out in preparation to face big league hitters.  Instead, he turned things over to the Chiefs bullpen.

If, as reported, it’s the Nationals plan to have him pitch 150 innings total, and 100 innings in the big leagues this season, Strasburg would only need one more five inning minor league start.  He’s thrown 45.1 innings combined in Double, and Triple A so far this season.

In four Triple-A starts, he’s gone 23.1 innings, allowing two runs, one earned, fashioning an 0.39 ERA on 11 hits and four walks.  He’s struck out 27, good for 10.41 K/9.

It’s widely speculated that Strasburg will make his major league debut Friday, June 4 against the Cincinnati Reds at Nationals Park.

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