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Who's On First For The Washington Nationals In '09? Who's The New Billy Traber? PLUS...Why No Love For Ronnie Belliard?

...So I got a little hung up on Austin Kearns' past and future yesterday, when in fact, there were a few other things of note in yahoosports.com article entitled, "Nationals Team Report" regarding Mike Hinckley, Anderson Hernandez and the first base situation in DC that deserved at least a quick mention...

According to the uncredited yahoosports.com article, DC lefty Mike Hinckley, who debuted in the Majors with 13.2 scoreless last September, is going to be given the chance to become the next Mike Stanton, the next Billy Traber, the next "Half-A" Ray King, or the next Charlie Manning, (though Manning remains on the roster), but Hinckley may have earned the right to be called the next Washington Nationals' late-inning lefty specialist by appearing in 14 games in which he allowed 8 hits, 1 unearned run and 3 walks with 9 K's, a 0.80 WHIP and a clean 0.00 on his stat sheet for all eternity...

Anderson Hernandez? Though they cite no source and provide no evidence, the yahoosports.com article claims that the former NY Mets' second baseman, "...will have the inside track to be the permanent starter at second base next year." Wait? I thought that job belonged to Emilio Bonifacio? MLB.com's Bill Ladson wrote, in last week's article, "Nationals see reason for optimism in '09", that, "Bonifacio and Hernandez will battle for the second-base job, while (Ronnie) Belliard will be the backup." Hernandez hit .333 in 28 games in '08 with 4 doubles, 17 RBI's and 3 fielding errors, Bonifacio hit .248 in 41 games with 5 doubles, 5 triples, 12 RBI's and 7 errors...Ronnie Belliard? 96 games, 22 doubles, 11 HR's, 46 RBI's, and 11 errors at 1B, 2B, 3B, SS. Yeah...Belliard should totally be the backup...?

...And finally first base? Everyone knows by now that DC can't rely on Nick Johnson and Dmitri Young to make it through 162, and no one seems to think Kory Casto can hold it down at first, so this is where everyone is looking for the Nationals' GM to pull a rabbit out of his Segway...The yahoosports.com article says that, "...Bowden has admitted the Nationals can’t go into next season without another option," but who they'll pursue at first is a mystery...Teixeira? Next!...Hank Blalock? The Rangers are expected to re-sign him...and Tex and Blalock are the only free agent first baseman under thirty...So...MLB.com's Bill Ladson reasoned recently, in another edition of Mr. Ladson's, "Mailbag: Should Dukes move to center?":

"I see Bowden making a trade for a first baseman before I see the Nationals spend(sic) a lot of money on one player."

If the Angels sign Teixeira, I still say make a play for Kendry Morales, the Cuban- born first baseman who hit .341 in at 78 games Triple-A last season, with 19 doubles, 16 HR's and 64 RBI's...he's a 25-year old, 6'1'' switch-hitting first baseman with a .337 AVG in 6 seasons in the Minors, and 128 games into his MLB career, he's got 22 doubles, 12 HR's and 45 RBI's...and he's under contract for two more years with just $350,000 due in '09 and $400,000 due in 2010...More than enough time for an apprenticeship, (aka "backing up") Nick Johnson at first and then a nice new contract for 2011, which I believe is the year the so-called Plan is supposed to take effect, but I could be wrong, the details and history of the Plan are murky...So what say you, Jim Bowden?...Make it happen!...Make something happen? I'm trying to help out here and do my part...Who's gonna play first next season for DC?

AFL Update...

The Peoria Saguaros have won two more games since we last checked in with the Nationals' prospect-filled roster. The Saguaros beat the Peoria Javelina's on Friday with Adam Carr pitching 1.1 in relief to earn his first Save of the AFL '08 campaign. Leonard Davis was 1 for 4 to end the night hitting .200, and shortstop Ian Desmond went 0 for 3, for a .333 AFL AVG...Saturday night...Leonard Davis was 2 for 5 with a run scored and an RBI. Bill Rhinehart got the start at first, going 0 for 4 with 1 RBI...and Zech Zinicola threw a scoreless frame in spite of allowing 2 hits and a walk. There was no game on Sunday...The Next Saguaros' game is on Monday night at home against the Surprise Rafters.

Want to know what Leonard Davis thinks of the AFL experience? Check out his blog entry from the MLB Pro Blog, "Nationals in the AFL", where Davis writes the first post entitled, "Happy To Be In Arizona", in which the Nationals' prospect says:

"The level of competition here is exactly what I was told it would be...challenging."

Leave a comment and show Leonard Davis that federalbaseball.com is reading...

AND FINALLY...Find Out Who Won The SB Nation's NL Manager of The Year Award at the SB Nation's blog about Sabermetrics, "Beyond The Box Score"...the rest of the Awards will be rolled out this week, starting Tuesday with The Rookie Of The Year Award...I'll be making the case for my choice tomorrow...Who did I choose again?...