• In all the Orlando Hudson chatter yesterday I missed a note on MLB.com's Bill Ladson's blog, in a post entitled, "Nats tidbits for Sunday", where for the first time, the Washington Nationals seemed to publically withdraw from the free agent pitching market, with Mr. Ladson writing:
"The Nationals still want a veteran starting pitcher, but don't expect general manager Mike Rizzo to look hard for one on the free-agent market. In fact, the club is waiting for free-agent pitchers to come to them at the right price."
Is this some cagey Rizzo trick? The two veteran pitchers who remain on the market whose names Mr. Ladson mentions as pitchers the Nats won't overpay for are John Smoltz, who's been linked to Washington, Philadelphia, St. Louis and more recently New York, and Jarrod Washburn, who FOXSports.com's Jon Paul Morosi says in a recent tweet appears to be headed to either Minnesota or Seattle, where he pitched for three years from 2006-2008.
• This might be good news for '09 starter Craig Stammen, who tells MLB.com's Mr. Ladson in the same post that he's fully recovered from surgery to remove bone spurs from his right, pitching, elbow, and, as Mr. Ladson writes Stammen is, "...willing to be a starter or reliever in 2010." Stammen and RHP Collin Balester found out through the press this winter that they were potentially candidates for the bullpen, but both seem to think simply being in the majors is what matters...
• In the first post on his "Nats Insider" blog, former Washington Times' Nationals beat writer Mark Zuckerman suggests a 2010 rotation of John Lannan, Jason Marquis, Scott Olsen, Miguel Batista and either Ross Detwiler or Stammen, but more interesting is the Nats' bench, where Mr. Zuckerman writes that he thinks it will be MIke Morse or Chris Duncan, Alberto Gonzalez or Eric Bruntlett and Justin Maxwell or Roger Bernadina battling for the same spots on the 2010 Opening Day Roster. Welcome Back, Mr. Zuckerman. (ed. note - "I'll take Detwiler and Stammen over Batista, Morse, Bruntlett and Bernadina, sorry J-Max, nothing personal.")
• Should Nationals' skipper Jim Riggleman save a spot in the 2010 rotation for the former SDSU starter? Will the Nationals' '09 No. 1 overall pick make the 2010 starting rotation coming out of Spring Training? What are Washington's plans for the 21-year-old flame-throwing right-hander this season? Mr. Riggleman was asked about Stephen Strasburg during yesterday morning's interview with XM host and Nats/MASN color commentator Rob Dibble and his "Baseball This Morning" cohost Steve Davis:
"...I will go in assuming that Strasburg likely will go to the minor leagues. I think that there's a process you go through to kind of get the respect of your teammates and, you know, kind of the process, if you get acclimated to throwing every fifth day in a ballgame, but doing your work in between, it's good maybe to work those things out during the course of the season. He didn't pitch much last year and then he had a little bit of a setback with the knee, so I think the prudent approach would be to go in with the assumption that he'll be in the minor leagues. If he's just undeniable, if it's just so clear cut that nothing bad can happen if we keep him, I guess we would rethink it. Davey (Johnson) went through it with Dwight Gooden, I went through it with Kerry Wood, and you know, I guess (Tim) Lincecum in San Francisco, there's some other examples, but you know, Lincecum probably dominated at the big league level in Spring Training or somewhere before he stepped into the San Francisco setting, so, we generally are pretty conservative in making that transition..."
"How about Drew Storen?", Steve Davis asks Mr. Riggleman:
"Well a little bit of the same, you know, Drew did sign early last year, got on the field, got in uniform and helped a couple different ballclubs in our system and really shined. He quickly became the number one bullpen guy on the staff that he was on. And, we just heard nothing but good things. I mean he's got a good out pitch, a good swing and miss pitch to go along with a good fastball. So we really expect him to help us soon, but the likelihood, not only because of being cautious or anything like that, but Mike (Rizzo) has really signed a lot of quality arms for our bullpen so there's not really any need to bring along anybody too quickly, because he just in the last couple days added two or three more guys and we already had (Brian) Bruney and (Matt) Capps, we have (Sean) Burnett, (Jason) Bergmann, (Tyler) Clippard and so, now with (Eddie) Guardado and (Tyler) Walker, (Miguel) Batista, there's a lot of arms there so, we don't want to just dismiss those guys..."
Can Strasburg make the rotation? Can Storen crack the bullpen? Will Orlando Hudson give on his contract demands? Where does Stammen fit into the rotation? Who's going to make the Nationals' bench? It's getting closer every day to the point where Nationals' skipper Jim Riggleman's going to be faced with some tough decisions...Spring Training can't come soon enough...