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Bust A Move Down To Columbus? (No Young (in) DC?)

Contrary to the somewhat knowing title of this post, I have no information on Dmitri Young and his belated attempt to win the Nationals' replacement first sacker post. Bless You Boys was wondering about Young just yesterday, and it occurs to me I don't really know what he's been doing all this time. I mean, I know he's been hanging in minor league camp with the accelerated program, but . . . still? Yep.

Manny Acta told your official Grapefruit League hometown paper, Florida Today:

"Up until (Nationals vice president and GM) Jim (Bowden) and the minor league staff decide that he is ready to come up here and show his skills, he's still down there," Acta said.

In the meantime, Young is trying to get into a little more of what you'd call game shape, which is also a little more than what one would say Young has been in recent seasons. As for the contenders in the big-boy camp, Larry Broadway is batting a fairly empty .263 and Travis Lee is batting .333---though, in samples of 19 and 12 at-bats, respectively, what really is the score?

OMG, possessor of no more leads than me but by far pithier and more reasonable in such assessments, sees Broadway and Lee making the initial 25-man roster out of Viera. (Of course, Harper also has Cristian Guzman apparently vaporized.) It would be kind of neat if one of Broadway or Lee were a righty swinger, but you take what you're given. This is the same team with three, count 'em three, left field candidates who all swing from the port side. Good thing one of them has minor league options remaining!

At any rate, first base will be covered in Nick Johnson's absence---not necessarily well-covered, mind you, but it's not exactly impossible to find a guy willing to stand out at the ol' three. Personally, I could care less about the Nats fooling around with Lee or Young or Robert Fick (in any capacity other than reserve/pinch-hitter/third catcher). This might as well be Broadway's shot. I'm not certain a 300 at-bat sample (or whatever it will be until Johnson is hopefully ready to return) is all that meaningful, but it's pretty lengthy. I have a feeling Broadway will have made it or not by the all-star break. Lee and Young are free to wait around to see if the answer's "not," but I would certainly honor their choice if not---which is perhaps a kinder way of saying "No big loss."

We'll see if that's what management thinks, though.

* * * *

Ian, the new blogger at Bless You Boys, is quite the kidder:

One more quick thought: Is there any chance the Tigers might be able to talk Bowden into taking Neifi Perez off their hands? Federal Baseball breaks down the Nats' current depth chart, and I think Neifi could fit in quite nicely.

I tried to express my response in MS Paint, but---I kid you not---the program wouldn't even accept my request. It objected to Neifi just on principle.

Then again, if the Nats were to employ Neifi (hypothetically), they could subsequently choose not to employ him any longer, which could lead to all kinds of fun spring reunion opportunities. Neifi is good at such things, as I noted a couple seasons ago:

The best cheap shots are courtesy of the Kansas City announcers. The Royals were playing the Cubs in Mesa yesterday, and former Royal shortstop/millstone Neifi Perez came to the plate. When Perez popped up to the second baseman, the play-by-play (not longtime announcer Denny Matthews, but another guy) said, "Well, what do you know? A harmless pop to second." Matthews chimed in drying, "Just like old times, eh?" Brian MacRae, offering commentary from the luxurious "third base camera well" outpost (how'd he get that job?), observed, "I guess Neifi left on bad terms, huh?" And the younger announcer, measuring his words a bit, replied, "That would be . . . the understatement of the century."

You know, I could sort of see Chuck Slowes deadpanning that last line. It would give him something to do other than give the score every other inning.

* * * *

We have a third starter! REPEAT: We have a third starter!

Jason Simontacchi was efficient and mostly effective this afternoon against the Cardinals. Simontacchi has accomplished quite a bit so far this spring: (a) a few nice outings; (b) one walk in twelve innings pitched; and (c) actually making it to twelve innings pitched. It seemed he had positioned himself for a rotation spot prior to today's outing, but he certainly did not hurt his status. Barring a collapse, it appears Simontacchi joins Shawn Hill as at-large guys, joining John Patterson, who of course has an automatic berth.

That's the good news---we now have three guys. That's like sixty percent of a rotation. Now, for the downside, Simontacchi is a 33 year-old guy with one, brief (and somewhat superficial) run of success, five years ago, who since then---in progression---has been smacked around, missed time to an arm injury presumably remedied by something more substantial than a Band-aid, and pitched 10.2 innings in the Atlantic League. This isn't the mop-up guy or starter-in-reserve at Triple-A; nope, it's the number three starter, or perhaps number two, depending on how you classify the even less proven Shawn Hill. (To be clear, I do like Hill. He looks like he can be okay if he can remain healthy.)

But why dwell on the downside? Looks like the Nats have one, two, three viable starters, which is better than zero at the moment. As for the fourth and fifth, I tried to touch on that last night in a reasonable and comprehensive manner, except I forgot to evaluate Jason Bergmann's prospects---and, at the moment, they look fairly good. Whoops. Sure, maybe Bergmann will make it.

Nats320 champions Rule 5 pick Levale Speigner; Capitol Punishment notes Speigner might find himself in the last spot on the staff given the team's concurrent decisions to disable Luis Ayala but still carry a twelve-man staff out of the gate.

* * * *

Notwithstanding Acta's consistent statements that Ryan Church is the presumptive starter, left field might be heating up. Chris Snelling slammed a game-winning homer the other day, inspiring Paciorek-esque guttural sounds from the Cult of Doyle at USS Mariner. Meanwhile, Kory Casto has batted .429/.579/.571 (admittedly, in a ridiculously meager 14 at-bats), and Church is scuffling along at .160/.300/.200 (in 25 at-bats). Casto is probably headed to Columbus, given: (1) he's never played at the Triple-A level, so there's the tidy progression factor at play, and (2) he has minor league option years remaining. But he's sort of the position player analog to Matt Chico, and if Acta sees the gleam in a young guy's eyes . . .

. . . well, I don't know if the outfield has resolved itself yet.

At that's just left field. In center, they're still trying to teach Nook Logan how to hit. Okay, hit from the left side. But, given Logan's minor league record, could you tell the difference?