Washington Nationals Sunday Spotlight...Adam Dunn, Nick Johnson, Jesus Flores and Stephen Strasburg...

DO NOT TRADE NICK JOHNSON...

I don't mean to pick on Adam Dunn, the Big Donkey, or Dunn-K, the Bigger Wilkerson or Big Wilky for short, but I do want Nick Johnson to remain on the Washington Nationals' roster, so with that in mind, how about one more review of Dunn's performance at first base, on an admittedly rain-soaked field, in a WBC matchup between the U.S. and Venezuela this past Thursday...

New York Times' writer William C. Rhoden writes in a NY Times' Saturday "Sports Of The Times" column entitled, "U.S. Team Lacks Support of Fans And Players", that with Red Sox' first baseman Kevin Youkilis injured:

"Adam Dunn of the Washington Nationals played first base Thursday night -- and not gracefully -- but the Nationals want Dunn to stay in the outfield."

That's a bit kinder to Adam Dunn than Washington Post writer Amy Shipley's initial reports the night of Dunn's 3-error effort, in an article entitled, "Venezuela Races Past Strapped Team USA", where Ms. Shipley wrote of how Dunn, "...incomprehensibly fielded a ground ball and threw so far out of the reach of catcher Chris Iannetta...that Iannetta didn't even extend his glove for it," for the first of his three errors that night. And in that article as well, the Nationals expressed a desire for Dunn to remain in the outfield...

So, do the Nationals just not want Dunn playing first in the WBC? If Dunn's expected to play the outfield exclusively in DC, then why are the Nationals trying to trade Nick Johnson as MLB.com's Bill Ladson reported in his blog post entitled, "Tidbits about Nats"? Mr. Ladson quoted "an opposing scout" who said Johnson wouldn't be dealt because he is, "...known for missing a lot of games because of injuries," but the fact that Washington's trying to deal Johnson means they must have someone else in mind for first?

Josh Bard?

And who is going to be backing up Jesus Flores when the season starts?...(If and when Flores returns from injury that is, more on that in a minute)...Because the Washington Nationals signed Josh Bard to a minor league deal with an invitation today, and that makes three, count'em three, backup catchers in camp, with Wil Nieves and Javier Valentin already behind the plate...but if you remember what Manny Acta said...all the way back in December, in an MLB.com interview that's credited only to MLB.com entitled, "An interview with Manny Acta", when asked whether or not the Nationals would acquire a veteran catcher to push Flores:

"We would like to have a guy that can push him. It's such an early age that he doesn't feel it's all his, and he can just sit down and rest. That's not his makeup or his character, but we as managers always like to do that, so we like probably a guy that can push him and give him a run for his money."

"Acting" GM Mike Rizzo told Washington Post writer Chico Harlan, as quoted in a Nationals Journal post entitled, "Health, Marriage and Sickness", that the three catchers, Bard, Nieves and Valentin, "...are fighting for the back-up catching job...And we've got three weeks to figure out who's the best of three...". As for Jesus Flores, MLB.com's Bill Ladson wrote yesterday that, "There is no timetable for his return, but manager Manny Acta said early this week that the team will make a determination by Monday." (ed. note - "As long as it's not Lo Duca!")...

STRASBURG FILES - "He Said How Much Now?"

San Diego State University starter Stephen Strasburg, (whose start Friday night was captured in sdsuaztec4's article, "Strasburg Files Episode 4 - The dreaded BS, ND"), gets a mention in ESPN.com's Peter Gammon's blog post (For Insiders Only) entitled, "Trade to A's was the best thing for Holliday", where Mr. Gammons writes:

"...some club officials think that if Washington takes San Diego State pitcher Stephen Strasburg with the first overall pick, Boras will ask for Daisuke Matsuzaka money (six years, approximately $50 million) or take him to Japan for a year, a threat that may scare Stan Kasten into selecting a lesser prospect."

I wrote back in late September '08, when it was clear that the Nationals would finish with the worst record in the Majors, in an article entitled, "Will The Washington Nationals Be Able To Sign A #1 Pick", that the Nationals would probably have to surpass the 6-year/$8.5 million dollar deal the Tampa Rays gave the last consensus #1 pitcher to come out of college, David Price, but I should've guessed that Scott "Maximum" Boras would be thinking bigger...if Mr. Gammons' "club officials" are to be believed...Is there any way the Washington Nationals can get away with not selecting Strasburg? Is there any way you can pay a pitcher who's never thrown a major league inning over $8.3M dollars a year? Making Strasburg (by far) the highest paid pitcher on the staff?  

Sunday Reading...

Dave and Cheryl Nichols from the Nationals New Network spent the week on Nationals Tour, following Washington around Florida and documenting the journey in a series of posts and a whole lot of photos...Mike Henderson from Nationals Pride.com in an article entitled, "A Preseason Meditation", wonders whether last year's 102-loss campaign and the #1 pick it produced can finally end several decades worth of futility from all the Mid-Atlantic region's baseball teams...Over in Tokyo, Japan, ESTOPPEL.08 from 1500 South Capitol St., is watching Stephen StrasburgJordan Zimmerman (aka J-Zim) and the WBC. (US vs Japan at 8:00 pm EST tonight.)...

GAME THREADS...

Nationals @ Astros...1:05 pm EST. John Lannan vs Brian Moehler. (ed. note - "I'll be following the Nationals through the iPhone this afternoon while I do some traveling.")

WBC Semi-Finals - U.S. vs Japan...8:00 pm EST. Adam Dunn and "Wild" Joel Hanrahan for the U.S. Roy Oswalt vs Daisuke Matsuzaka. (ed. note - "No way I'm missing this, I'll be home and online if anyone's watching!!!")

Who's Watching The Nationals? Who's Watching Dunn-K and "Wild" Joel In The WBC? Strasburg Wants How Much??

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