Washington vs Cleveland: Game Two Tonight Ends In Rain...and...TRADE BELLIARD???

Jason Bergmann took the loss for Washington as Cleveland prevailed in this rain-shortened night half of the day/night, split/squad doubleheader between the Nationals and the Indians which was called due to rain with the Nationals down 3-2 after five and a half innings of play.

Bergmann threw 4.0 innings, allowing 3 hits and 3 runs, (only 1 of which was earned), a HR to Indians' outfielder Franklin Gutierrez, and 2 walks with 1 K to end the night with a 2.45 ERA and drop his record to (1-1) in 11.0 IP this Spring over which he now has given up 9 hits, 3 ER, 3 HR, and 4 walks while striking out 6 in 3 starts.

The Nationals' two runs came courtesy of outfielder Justin Maxwell, (who must see an opportunity opening up), and tonight hit a two-run home run to make it 3-2 Cleveland with one out in the top of the 6th-and tonight-final frame off of Indians' reliever Masahide Kobayashi, who you'll remember signed with Cleveland after nine years in the Japanese Pacific League playing for the Chiba Lotte Marines, the last four of which were played under former Major League Manager Bobby Valentine, who, according to a recent MLB Trade Rumors'(www.mlbtraderumors.com) post entitled, "Top 3 Japanese Free Agents", stated during the most recent Japanese Playoffs that:

"Kobayashi keeps 'looking better every time out.'"

Justin Maxwell's first HR and RBI's of the Spring left him with a .286 AVG on 4 hits in 14 at bats with double, a HR and 2 RBI's in 10 games. Maxwell's fellow outfielder Kory Casto made the start in left tonight for this collection of Nationals, going 1 for 3 with a double. If Wily Mo Pena and Elijah Dukes (who says he's fine) are unavailable for Opening Night, I have to think either Casto or Maxwell is going to be considered for the starting spot in left, unless Alex Escobar, Garrett Guzman, Willie Harris or Ryan Langerhans really steps up...

Ronnie Belliard was 2 for 3 with a double to raise his Spring AVG. to .484, but in this afternoon's game, the Nationals' announce team brought up a rumor, which seems to have originated in a Ken Rosenthal article entitled, "Dodgers seeking assistance for Nomar, Kent", in which the FOX Sports writer notes that Belliard has been drawing the interest of the LA Dodgers' who just lost third baseman Andy LaRoche for 8 to 10 weeks with a torn ligament in his thumb, and are already racked with injuries to Nomar Garciappara and Jeff Kent which have decimated their infield.

As Mr. Rosenthal writes in his article:

"Instead of pursuing a high-priced third baseman, the Dodgers are looking for a more versatile infielder who can play second and third, backing up Jeff Kent and Nomar Garciaparra.

"The Nationals' Ron Belliard and Royals' Esteban German, both of whom are attracting the Dodgers' interest, would be more affordable than the Tigers' Brandon Inge or White Sox's Joe Crede.

"The Nationals, dealing with a surplus at second base, should have little difficulty trading Cristian Guzman, Ron Belliard or Bret Boone. The Orioles, for starters, might need a replacement for Roberts. Several other clubs also could stand to improve at second...

"...Belliard, earning $1.6 million this season and $1.9 million next season, is perhaps the most logical player for the Nationals to trade. Guzman is too expensive at $4.2 million, and the Nats already employ Boone's father, Bob, in the front office, and brother Aaron, as an infield reserve."

Why the Nationals would even consider trading Belliard, I'm not sure...after three seasons of Guzman getting hurt and a year and a half of ineffectiveness from Felipe Lopez, I figured Belliard would be starting soon enough, that is if he didn't win the job at second outright this Spring, but Lopez has to show other teams he's worth trading for, and the Nationals still seem convinced he can turn things around, while Belliard has probably never been more valuable. But PLEASE, no more outfielders in return from LA, unless we're talking Andre Ethier...

The Tallest Pitcher in MLB History, Jon Rauch got in another scoreless inning of work, retiring three Indians in the fifth, to keep his ERA spotless (0.00) this Spring in 5.0 IP, during which he's allowed just 1 hit and 2 walks, with 2 K's.  

The Nationals' next game is against the aforementioned LA Dodgers tomorrow at the Nationals' Spring home, Space Coast Stadium in sunny Viera, Florida at 1:05 PM EST. Odalis Perez will be making his first start of the Spring since signing in DC, and the veteran lefty will oppose at least half of the LA roster, (as the rest are in China for an exhibition game against San Diego)...including stateside Dodgers' starter Brad Penny on the mound.

Two More Links To Check Out...

The bloggers of the SB Nation have been given access to Rotoworld.com so that we can check out their, "Rotoworld.com 2008 Fantasy Baseball Online Draft Guide." If you want to take a look...Click here- ROTOWORLD.com (ed. note- "This is a subscription site, so only so much info is avaiable for free, but I'll take an in-depth look this weekend and see what's there, and then report back.)

Also, I just noticed (Sorry for snoozing, Matt!) that a diary post by Matt Bishoff of nobiasbaseball.com has a link to their sites', "NBB Division Preview: NL East", which predicts that the Nationals will again finish 4th in the NL East, and picks Shawn Hill, John Patterson, Jason Bergmann, Matt Chico and John Lannan as the DC starting rotation.

Take a look for yourself...NBB Division Preview: NL East

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