On November 6, 2006, the Washington Nationals purchased the contracts of twenty-two Minor League free agents in an attempt to instantly replenish the desiccate franchise's system. Out of those twenty-two players signed, four, Mike Bacsik, Tim Redding, Winston Abreu, and Joel Hanrahan, played significant roles in the Nationals 2007 season.
"Hollywood" Mike Bacsik, the Nationals Most Famous pitcher, made 20 starts for Washington, going (5-8) wth a 5.11 ERA in 118.0 innings, and along the way served up the biggest home run of the young century.
Tim Redding probably earned himself a starting spot in the 2008 rotation with his performance on the mound last season. (3-6) in 15 starts with a 3.64 ERA, 47 K's and 38 walks in 84.0 innings, Redding earned his call-up from the Minors and stayed in DC the rest of the season, making his first start since June 6th of '05 on July 3, 2007 in a 3-1 loss to the Chicago Cubs.
Winston Abreu, a thirty-year old right-handed reliever, who had played 11 Minor League seasons before reaching the Majors with Baltimore in '06, made 37 appearances for the Nationals Triple-AAA affiliate, the Columbus Clippers, posting a (3-0) record with a 1.20 ERA in 52.1 innings, but didn't fare as well when called up, finishing '07 with a (0-1) record and a 5.93 ERA in 30.1 IP for DC.
It took Joel Hanrahan 8 seasons in Los Angeles Dodgers' Minor League system before he was able to sign with the Nationals and work his way up to the starting rotation by July 28, 2007. Hanrahan was (5-3) on the season, with a 6.00 ERA, 43 K's and 38 walks in 51.0 innings.
Will Washington be able to find any players that make as significant a contribution out of the 19 Minor League free agents they signed this week? Sixteen of them are new to the organization, with Mike Bacsik, Arnie Munoz and Mike Hinckley, re-signing with the Nationals.
Tristan Crawford is a 24 year-old right-handed pitcher out of the Minnesota organization, who is (31-23) with a 4.24 ERA over 8 seasons at all levels of the Twins system. Steven Shell is a former 3rd Round pick (81st overall) of the LA Angels, who has gone (53-44) in 133 starts, including his (7-3) stint with the Angels Triple-AAA affiliate at Salt Lake last season, and Bobby Brownlie, a right-handed pitcher out of Jason Bergmann's old stomping grounds at Rutgers University in NJ, is a former 1st Round Pick of the Cubs ('02).
Michael "Mike" Hinckley, the Expos 3rd Round pick (82nd) overall, in 2001, is still the most interesting name on the list of players signed in my opinion. Though...mostly because I've been waiting six years to see Hinckley pitch.
The 24 year-old left-hander out of Oklahoma City, Oklahoma, was (32-13) with a 2.80 ERA in his first four years with the franchise, quickly becoming one of the top pitching prospects, but Hinckley struggled to (3-9), (6-7), and (9-10) records, with dramatically escalating ERA totals, of 4.93, 5.34, and 5.83, in the last three seasons since the move to DC, due mainly to a series of injuries...
"But it was the guys that the Nationals signed just before the season, or sometime in the Winter that had the most impact on the team," my Brother Scout, Braves Fan and Source for All Things Baseball interjects, "...guys like Ronnie Belliard."
"...And DY!" I offer in agreement with Scout's assessment, "Dmitri Young was the team MVP for Washington as far as I'm concerned."
"..And when did they sign Belliard and DY," Scout asks.
"Belliard...on February 18th of '06 and DY on the 14th of February," I say after looking it up.
With that in mind, check out Bill Ladson's article, "Make do with what you've got" from washington.nationals.mlb.com, where Mr. Ladson writes about the Nationals needs and desires heading into next week's Winter Meetings and rehashes the recent talk about Elijah Dukes, Rocco Baldelli, and Livan Hernandez as possible trade and free agent targets, and again lists Ryan Church, Nook Logan and Chad Cordero as the possible bait in any potential deals, before Mr. Ladson casually drops a bombshell:
"According to a media report, catcher Brian Schneider is
rumored to be on the block, with the Mets as a possible
Wuh-wuh-wuh-WHAT??? Is this the New York Sports Media throwing the-Mets-need-a-catcher-talk around, or is this legitimate? Is Jesus "The Future" Flores about to become "The Present?" Trade Schneider? To the Mets?
*LINKS AND LINKS AND...*
washington.nationals.mlb.com's 11/6/06 transaction log:
mlb.com's writer Bill Ladson's article, "Nats sign 21 Minor League free agents" on the '06 Minor League free agent signings:
washington.nationals.mlb.com's 11/27/06 transaction log:
Michael Hinckley's stats at thebaseballcube.com:
mlb.com's writer Bill Ladson's article, "Nationals sign 19 to 'Minor' deals":
mlb.com's writer Bill Ladson's article, "Make do with what you've got" about the upcoming Winter Meetings: