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Memo To Washington Nationals: Do Not Trade Nick Johnson, Select And Sign Stephen Strasburg, Do Something About The OF...

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DO NOT TRADE NICK JOHNSON...

I've been speculating for a while now that Josh Willingham would be the one who gets dealt from the Washington Nationals' overcrowded outfield, and Washington Times' writer Mark Zuckerman is the first person I've seen put the possibility of dealing Willingham into print, in an article entitled, "Nats still crowded in right", where Mr. Zuckerman says it's down to Elijah Dukes, Austin Kearns and Josh Willingham for the right field spot alongside, presumably, Adam Dunn in left and Lastings Milledge in center, but, Mr. Zuckerman writes:

"Conventional wisdom has said the Nationals won't open the season with all three on the roster, and indeed ("Acting DC GM Mike) Rizzo has been actively shopping Kearns and to a lesser extent Willingham."

Both Mr. Rizzo and DC Manager Manny Acta seem prepared to go forward with the roster as is, however, with the "Acting" GM telling the Times' Mr. Zuckerman, "We're not just going to make a baseball trade to alleviate one of the outfielders," and Mr. Acta stating matter of factly, that if a move isn't made, "...then three are going to play outfield and two are going to sit on the bench..."

Austin Kearns is owed $8 million dollars this year, and he's got another year at $10M or a $1M buyout coming his way in 2010. Josh Willingham signed for 1-year and $2.95 million, avoiding arbitration at the last moment. Do you think the Washington Nationals are going to start the season with $10.95 million in outfielders on the bench...?

...The Nationals can't still be thinking of trading Nick Johnson after last night's game can they? Batting sixth, behind Dukes, Johnson was 2 for 4 with 2 RBI's against the Braves, and he's now hit in 10 of 40 at bats this Spring with 2 doubles, 3 HR's, 9 RBI's and 8 walks, but it was with the glove that Johnson showed his true value, making at least three plays that no one else on the roster capable of manning the position would have been able to make...

Baseball America's John Manuel on XM's Inside Pitch Talking About Strasburg?

Baseball America's Editor in Chief John Manuel was on XM's "Inside Pitch" with Jeff Joyce and Kevin Kennedy this afternoon to talk prospects, so of course they started with Stephen Strasburg. (ed. note - "The following are the highlights of the notes I was able to take. I'll be paraphrasing, of course, since i had no recording device on me...")

-- Strasburg as prospect comparable to Mark Prior, Jered Weaver, what they were able to do in college...

-- Scouts like his "clean mechanics"...

-- Strasburg wasn't pampered or told he was "awesome". Wasn't recruited. That's why he ended up at SDSU. Has a gifted arm and a gifted work ethic.

-- Q: Is there any way DC can pass on Strasburg? A: The "Boras Factor" is really a complicating factor. The gap between Strasburg and the rest of the class is huge. Most of the other top picks are Boras' clients, so if you avoid Boras you'll be choosing 4th or 5th best player...Don't think you can avoid taking Strasburg if you're the Nationals? Strasburg and Boras are in a great position...

ESPN.com Writer Keith Law on Strasburg?

sdsuaztec4, who has been covering Stephen Strasburg's starts here at Federal Baseball.com, posted a link to ESPN.com's Keith Law's video of Strasburg pitching, and in the article accompanying the video by Mr. Law entitled, "Strasburg ready for majors right now", Mr. Law writes that, "The latest rumor -- which is probably just that, rumor -- is that Strasburg will demand a major league deal covering five years with a guarantee of $25 million."

That's certainly better than the 6-year/$50 million rumor that was floating around last week...

Off-Day Reading Material:

Dave at the Nats News Network has, "Pitching on the Brain"...Steven at FJB is looking into the future for his article entitled, "FJB's Official 2009 Big Predictions Post"...Nationals Pride.com writer Anthony Wilson wants to know where you can get, "More Bang For Your Baseball Bucks: Camden Yards or Nationals Park?" ...MLB.com's Bill Ladson reported yesterday that DC decided that the, "Nationals to carry extra position player", though no one was saying who that pitcher would be... Finally, this one comes courtesy of Washington Post writer Tracee Hamilton's link filled post entitled, "Mid-Morning Reading" which linked to a National Post.com article by Graeme Hamilton entitled, "Expos Thrown A Tax Curve". 

For The Completists...Full (unedited) ATL/DC Game Report After The Jump...

Next game Friday at 7:05 pm EST...Washington Nationals @ NY's Hated Mets. John Lannan vs Johan Santana from Port St. Lucie, Florida's Tradition Field...

 

After a quick scoreless first from Collin Balester, Leadoff Lasto takes the first pitch from Kenshin Kawakami, but can’t lay off the second, which he fouls back into the stands. Kawakami comes in and high with a fastball which Milledge tries to bunt, but ends up grounding hard to first. Cristian Guzman flies out to short left. Ryan Zimmerman pops one up into the wind that Kelly Johnson catches in foul territory behind first.

 

Balester gets a groundball to first from Brian McCann that Nick Johnson fields on the backhand and takes himself. Balester gets a fly ball to center with a high fastball to Jeff Francouer that Milledge catches. Kelly Johnson flies weakly to center, Milledge catches it coming in...Adam Dunn grounds into the dramatic shift. Elijah Dukes takes a called strike three, though he disagrees. Nick Johnson hits an excuse-me grounder that the Braves' catcher McCann plays, throwing to first to end the second. 

 

Balester gets a grounder to second out of Matt Diaz. Adam Dunn takes two steps forward to catch Martin Prado’s lineout. Kawakami rips one through second for a two-out single. Josh Anderson pops up to Guzman behind short. Javier Valentin lifts a 3-1 pitch out to left for the first out. Anderson “Winter League” Hernandez flies out to left. Collin Balester lowers his bat and walks back to the dugout after taking strike three. 

 

Yunel Escobar gets help from the Ump on a two-strike pitch Balester throught was a strike, and Escobar ends up ripping a grounder that hits Zimmerman’s glove at third and ricochets into left. Collin Balester leaves a change out for Chipper Jones to demolish, out to right, 2-0 Braves. Brian McCann sends Milledge back to the track, but he makes the grab in right center. Jeff Francouer doubles into the left center gap. Anderson Hernandez takes a high-hopping grounder from Kelly Johnson, fires to first where Nick Johnson stretches and catches. Nick Johnson stabs a sharp grounder off Matt Diaz’s bat, and trots to first to step on the bag. 

 

Lastings Milledge waits on a 1-2 bender and slaps it out to short for the first out of the fourth. Cristian Guzman slips a line drive into left center. Ryan Zimmerman powers a fastball out to center and it dies in the wind as Josh Anderson makes the grab. Guzman takes third. Dunn takes a 3-1 pitch and walks in front of Dukes. Dukes shatters his bat on a grounder up the middle for an infield single. Guzman scores, 2-1 Braves. Nick Johnson grounds out to Diory Hernandez at second. 

 

Martin Prado pushes Adam Dunn back to the track in left where he makes the catch. Elijah Dukes misplays a fly ball and has it bounce off the heel of his glove as he steps back awkwardly. Josh Anderson grounds to second, Hernandez to Guzman to Johnson, double play....Javier Valentin, Anderson Hernandez  go down, but Wily Mo Pena takes a two-out walk to keep the fifth alive for DC. Milledge grounds out to end it. 

 

Kip Wells replaces Balester to start the 6th. Milledge gets under a pop fly from Omar Infante. Chipper Jones, Professional Hitter, pushes a double down the line in left. Brian McCann grounds one off Johnson’s chest, but he recovers, and Wells covers first. Ground ball up the middle from Francouer, Hernandez gets there, but can’t get the throw on line. Chipper scores. 3-1 Braves. Guzman comes charging, double pumps and throws to first in time to get Diory Hernandez for the third out of the Braves' sixth...Mike Gonzalez takes over for Atlanta, and gives up a slap single to Guzman to start the home half of the frame. Zimmerman follows with a single up the middle, Guzman beats the throw to third, Zimmerman takes second. Dunn? Two-strike fastball from Gonzalez for a called strike three. DUKES!!! Dukes rips a liner over third, two runs score, 3-3 ballgame. Elijah “Super” Dukes, everyone. Nick Johson works the count full and rips an RBI single to center to score Dukes, 4-3 DC. Nieves sneaks a ground ball up the middle. Anderson Hernandez grounds out and pulls his hamstring(guessing? confirmed as strain) while running to first. 

 

Ryan Zimmerman throws out Matt Diaz for the first out of the seventh. Kip Wells gets a ground ball from Martin Prado for the second out. Jason Heyward pops up over home and Ryan Zimmerman comes in to catch the final out. Kory Casto grounds out in a PH appearance in place of Wells. Peter Moylan, (who served up Zim’s Opening Day walk-off last year), throws a sinker outside by Milledge for strike three. Guzman takes a walk to bring up Ryan “Walk-Off” Zimmerman, who strikes out swinging to end the seventh. 4-3 DC. 

 

Will Ledezma vs Josh Anderson? Fly ball into Milledge’s glove. Nick Johnson catches a pop fly that twists in the wind off Omar Infante’s bat. Will Conrad strikes out swinging. Ledezman with a big inning in relief...Adam Dunn vs Charlie Morton. Dunn lines a 2-2 pitch to left center for a leadoff single. Willie Harris runs for Dunn. Dukes draws a walk. Nick Johnson drives in a run with a single to center. 5-3 DC. Wil Nieves K’s swinging at a 2-2 fastball. Dukes steals third, and scores when Ronnie Belliard singles to right. 6-3 DC. Corey Patterson pops up a bunt and gets Belliard forced out at second. Patterson steals second, but Milledge grounds out to end the 8th...

 

Saul “Sa-ool” Rivera on to end it...Ryan Zimmerman charges a weak grounder from C Ross, and throws to first for the first out of the ninth. Willie Harris finds and catches the second out off Brandon Jones’ bat. Diory Hernandez works the count full and stares strike three all the way in. DC wins. 6-3 final.