• Desi's 2nd Half: After going 4 for 4 with a double and three singles last night, Washington Nationals' shortstop Ian Desmond's 7 for 18 in August with two doubles, a home run (his first since late April) and a .391/.400/.609 line in the last week, a .306/.366/.500 slash in the last two weeks and a .302 AVG, with a .384 OBP, .444 SLG, nine walks and 10 K's in the last 28 days, 21 games and 74 plate appearances. The 25-year-old infielder who turns 26 this December's first-half to forget (at the plate at least) still has him at .235/.285/.331 overall in 2011, however.
After last night's impressive work at the plate, Davey Johnson said he liked what he saw from Ian Desmond before the game had even started. "I tell you what," Johnson said, "He had a great BP, and he changed his style a little bit to be more aggressive, got up on the plate a little bit, and I told him before the game, 'That's you,' and I think you're going to see a great second-half out of him." In his first full season in the majors last year, Desmond rebounded from a .238/.279/.348 first-half with a .285/.330/.434 post All-Star slash, but he had 26 doubles and nine HR's before the break and 24 and nine in the second-half as well. Desmond's hit just 16 doubles and four HR's total in 2011.
• CF Search, Answers Within?: On the The Mike Rizzo Show Thursday night, D.C. GM Mike Rizzo spoke to 106.7 the FAN's Danny Rouhier about the Nationals' search for a center fielder. Though they failed to acquire the leadoff bat/CF they were looking for at the Non-Waiver Deadline, the Nats' GM said, "We have guys in place that are developing as we speak that I feel confident saying will be that answer for us in center. Now, because all developmental curves are different, I don't know exactly when that time frame is."
"This person," Rizzo continued, referring to the Nats' rumored targets around the league without naming Denard Span, B.J. Upton or Michael Bourn specifically, "...we feel that would have been a bridge to one of these younger players in our system [that] we believe has the ability and the temperament and the skill set and the tools to take over as an everyday center fielder [and] top of the order hitter.
"Often times, we feel that we need to be strong in the middle of the field now to compete in '11 and beyond," Rizzo explained, so the Nats were willing to deal, "... I felt if there was an opportunity to accelerate that curve and get us a guy now that's young enough and controllable enough that it would be worth the risk of giving up a player or two [for] the Nationals because we're finally at a point where we have depth in our system that can kind of counteract any losses that we have."
In spite of the rumors of the Nats' interest in the Rays' B.J. Upton, ESPN.com's Jayson Stark wrote yesterday In the "Ready to Rumble" section of a post-deadline article entitled, "Five players chasing MLB records", that, "...it's now clear the young center fielder [Rizzo] most coveted was Denard Span." Span, who fits the definition of a young, controllable player (he signed a 5-year/$16.5M dollar deal in 2010), was available at the deadline, but in Mr. Stark's opinion he's not likely to be this winter should Washington wish to revisit the discussions:
"'The only reason they even thought about trading him now was they thought they had a chance to win, and bullpen was the one thing they thought they really needed,'" an executive of one club said of the Twins. "'So when they had a chance to get [Drew] Storen, they thought he was by far the best closer out there. But once that deal fell through, they'll be dealing with a different set of circumstances [next offseason]. That same sense of urgency won't be there in the winter."
The deal fell through, according to several sources now including MLB.com's Bill Ladson who said as much shortly after the deadline passed, because as ESPN.com's Mr. Stark too writes, "...the teams could never settle on a second player in the trade." Minnesota liked Stephen (Steve) Lombardozzi, "But teams that have asked about [Lombardozzi]... say the Nationals have shown no interest in moving him."