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AFL Update...Nationals' Prospects In Action In Arizona...PLUS An Update On "The Plan".


It's been a while since I checked in with the Nationals' prospects in the Arizona Fall League with all this trade talk distracting me from the onfield action out West, but the last time we did the Peoria Saguaros held a tenuous 1.0 game lead over the AFL American Division's second-place Mesa Solar Sox. 

Monday 11/10 Phoenix Desert Dogs at Peoria...

DC pitching prospect Zechry Zinicola pitched the eighth inning of what looked like it would be a loss Monday night, but Zinicola's Peoria Saguaros rallied with a 7-run home eighth to take an improbable 13-11 win, giving the pitcher his first AFL "W". Zinicola (1-0, 4.05 ERA), threw 20 pitches, striking out the first batter he faced and getting two ground balls to end the top of the frame, and it was Zinicola's fellow Nationals'/Saguaros' IF Ian Desmond who really started the rally with a two-run HR in the eighth after a leadoff single by Cardinals' '08 1st Rnd pick, Brett Wallace. One out later Mets' prospect Daniel Murphy doubled in a run, stole third and scored on the first of three singles off Phoenix, which, when combined with 2 walks caused the late-inning collapse which allowed the Sags' comeback win. Desmond, starting at short, finishes the day 1 for 5 with a R, HR, 3 RBI's, and a .280 AVG after the game.

Tuesday 11/11 Peoria Saguaros at Phoenix...

No Nationals' prospects on the mound Tuesday night but there were three bats in the lineup with Ian Desmond at short, Leonard Davis in left and Bill Rhinehart at first base for Peoria in a 6-5 loss to Phoenix. Desmond ends the game 1 for 5, 1 RBI, .278 AVG. Davis is 0 for 3, .311 AVG with a walk, a run scored his second stolen base of the fall. Rhinehart goes 0 for 4 with 2 K's, but he's still hitting .282 as a Saguaro... 

Wednesday 11/12 The Battle of Peoria...Saguaros vs Javelinas.

A three-run second inning was all the Saguaros would need to beat Peoria's second favorite sons, the Javelinas, who scored two runs to make it close before Nationals' pitching prospect Adam Carr came on to earn his second save of the fall for Peoria's 3-2 win. Carr throws just 9 pitches in the save, six strikes, two ground balls and a pop out later Carr's able to end it. No other DC prospects played today...

What's DC GM Jim Bowden Doing?

Washington Times' writer Mark Zuckerman isn't the first one to wonder about Washington's plans for the team in the wake of the Nationals' acquisition of Josh Willingham and Scott Olsen, as he starts his 11/12/08 article entitled, "Nats move in new direction", by questioning the team's intentions:

"A franchise that has been saying for years that it intends to build a contender from within by stockpiling young players, the Washington Nationals seemed to alter their grand plan with a trade that yielded established major leaguers Josh Willingham and Scott Olsen - and sent three prospects to Florida."

DC GM Jim Bowden's response in Mr. Zuckerman's article:

"'We're not going to just wait for the farm system to develop players here,' Bowden said during a news conference at Nationals Park. 'We said when we were building up our development and scouting that one of the means of using that would be for trades. We've lived up to that.'"

GM Jim Bowden from 11/12/08, meet GM Jim Bowden from 1/5/08, in an article by's Bill Ladson entitled, "Q&A with Jim Bowden", where Mr. Bowden responds to Mr. Ladson's question, "How do you feel about the Nationals going into Spring Training", by explaining:

"I think we continue to make progress at all levels in our organization. We continue to add good young players to build the franchise for the long term."

But to be fair, GM Jim Bowden from's Bill Ladson's 9/27/07 article entitled, "Q&A with Jim Bowden", does explain, just like he's saying now, that waiting for prospects to develop isn't the only way to build for the future:

"'As an organization, we'll continue to find ways to put the best team we can on the field. You don't know when opportunities come about with free agency, trades or the farm system. It's always about competition and putting the best product to win games.'"

DC GM Jim Bowden, back in Mark Zuckerman's article, "Nats move in new direction", explains how Willingham and Olsen are part of the "long term" plan for the Nationals, telling Mr. Zuckerman:

"'This was not trade and rent a player for a year,' Bowden said. 'These are two players that can fit in the long-term plan here.'"

Alright...How about 7/31/08 GM Jim Bowden's opinion, from Washington Post writer Chico Harlan's article, "The Fully Contextualized Jim Bowden Q&A, trade deadline ed.", (where Mr. Bowden's asked about rumors that the Nationals could possibly trade second-year starter John Lannan) responds:

"We know what we're doing here. We're building for the long term. We've been consistent with that. So we weren't talking about trading our young players. Unless we're looking for other young players."

With rumors of more trades to come it should be interesting to see what direction the next move leads the Nationals? Will they get older? Younger? Trade for a power bat or sign a free agent? One thing's for sure, regardless of what happens, it's all part of "The Plan"..