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Washington Nationals: Spring Training 2009: The First Week of Spring...

Should The Washington Nationals Trade Nick "A-Swing" Johnson?

There's no "according to an anonymous source" or any "team official who asked not to be identified", no unidentified "baseball source", no, Yahoo! Sports' writer Tim Brown just comes out and says it, in his organizational analysis entitled, "Nationals have to find some direction", where Mr. Brown writes, (after talking about the Zimmerman arbitration standoff, the Odalis Perez holdout and Esmailyn Gonzalez's-David Lynch's-Lost-Highway-like shift of identity, etc.):

"Amid that paperwork, The Nats are -- or shortly will resume -- shopping first baseman Nick Johnson, because they added Adam Dunn to a roster already thick with outfielders and first baseman."

Washington Nationals' Manager Manny Acta? Your thoughts on the situation? As Mr. Acta told an AP writer for an article this weekend entitled, "Nats' Johnson retools swing in latest comeback", "It makes a lot of guys salivate, including myself, to have two guys like that in the lineup." The two guys Mr. Acta is referring to? Nick Johnson and Adam Dunn, of course...

So, if the Manager prefers having both guys in the lineup...Who wants Nick Johnson sent out of town? Why is a recovering Nick Johnson, at $5.5M, more valuable a trade asset than the recovering $8.0M dollar Austin Kearns (who also has another year at $10M or a $1.0M buyout)? Or Josh Willingham at 1-year/$2.95M? (Though trading the "Hammer" would be Yankees/Swisher/Nady-ish...) Who do the Nationals think they're going to get for Nick Johnson?

Maybe You Should Just Talk To Elijah Dukes About Baseball?

In a Washington Times' article last Thursday entitled, "A multi-faceted battle" the unnamed writer quoted Elijah Dukes, who is, at first, willing to talk about competing for a job in the Nationals' overcrowded outfield, but is unwilling to discuss any of the well-documented (elsewhere) personal issues he's had to deal with this offseason, and when the subject is broached, Dukes' prompt exit from the interview draws this response from the anonymous reporter:

"Those kinds of interactions with media members are just one reason some members of the Nationals organization question whether Dukes has grown enough in his year-plus with the club."

Is the fact that a twenty-four-year-old baseball player doesn't want to discuss the details of his personal life with a group of reporters really a sign of immaturity? Did any of the reporters ask any of the other players in the room about their personal or legal affairs? Why not just talk to Elijah Dukes about baseball?

But No One Will Leave The Past Alone...

Not even Nelson Figueroa, or, more accurately, New York Post writer Mike Vaccaro, who brings up the infamous Dukes/Figueroa/"softball girls incident' again, in his article entitled, "Figueroa has passport to MLB success".

(ed. note - "Great title...the only one worse than that is the New York Daily News' article by Peter Botte from immediately after the 'softball girls incident' with Mr. Botte somehow getting the title, 'Girls can cheer as Figgy gets cut' by an editor...").

Mr. Vaccaro writes that he understands why Figueroa might be upset by the antics of "the silly chorus line" led by Dukes, since the veteran pitcher has fought for a job for years now, while the game, "comes as naturally as breathing" to players like Dukes. What "kind" of player is Dukes? According to Mr. Vaccaro, "Players overloaded with talent and perks [who] never really appreciate the game until they have to or until it's too late." (ed. note - "Alright, that's probably a valid assessment.")

(ed. note - "Did I mention that the uncredited Washington Times' article from the last section said that, ' ...after two days of workouts (Dukes) has already flashed glimpses of his natural talent, enough that it seems like he could be Washington's starting right fielder on Opening Day.' I know, I know, the "softball girls incident" is much more interesting...")

Don't remember the "softball girls incident"? Nelson Figueroa. Shea Stadium. May 12, 2008. After a 3-run fifth for the Nationals off Figueroa on a single by Nick Johnson, a two-out walk by "The Mack" Rob Mackowiak and back to back RBI hits by Jesus Flores and DC pitcher Odalis Perez, Figuero leaves the mound screaming at the Nationals' dugout, where Elijah Dukes and several other players had been innocently conducting some organized cheers on behalf of their teammates, or as Mr. FIgueroa described it in The NY Daily News' Peter Botte's article,...the Nationals sounded, "like 'a bunch of softball girls,'" but, as Mr. Botte somewhat cruely points out in the opening paragraph of his article, "The Nationals may have acted like a bunch of softball girls," but Figueroa, who was demoted after the poor outing, " the one who is one step closer to the beer leagues." Ouch.


As Washington Post writer Chico Harlan noted in a post at the Nationals Journal entitled, "Bright Lights, Lighter Players", Odalis Perez either arrives at camp on Sunday, or he's officially tardy. Perez, who wants more respect from the Nationals and more guaranteed money, not necessarily in that order, has had no contact with the team, " this should come to a head soon," as Mr. Harlan puts it.

...Back where we started in Yahoo! Sports' writer Tim Brown's article entitled, "Nationals have to find some direction", Mr. Brown, (after quoting Nationals' Team President Stan Kasten, who can't make sense of Perez's decision), offers the Nationals this advice, when it comes to their left-handed holdout:

"Well, management could sit around and try to figure that out. Or, it could release Perez and tend to the pitchers in camp, the ones who showed up on time and went to work. There’s still value in that, right?"

Will "Opening Night" Odalis Perez hop on a plane and arrive in Viera, Florida tomorrow? As of 1:31 am EST, there are no reports of his having done so...

(ed. note - "And while we're on the subject of Nationals' pitching...I still can't believe that the majority of you, the voting members of the readership, really want Pedro Martinez to join the Nationals. Let's see if we can get some sensible voting before this POLL closes, shall we? Or someone at least make a good argument for Pedro in the Comments..b.")