The amazing haul of the the Nationals

DMZ · November 6, 2006 at 6:32 pm · Filed Under General baseball 

This came across the transaction wire today:

Signed RHP Tim Redding, RHP Joel Hanrahan, INF Josh Wilson and OF Michael Restovich to one-year contracts. Signed RHPs Jermaine Van Buren, T.J. Nall, Colby Lewis, Felix Diaz, Eduardo Valdez, Josh Hall, Winston Abreu, Jim Magrane; LHPs Mike Bacsik, Billy White and Chris Michalak; C Juan Brito and C Danny Ardoin; INF Joe Thurston and INF Alejandro Machado; and OF Darnell McDonald and OF Wayne Lydon to Minor League contracts.

As Dave put it

Yea, Jim Bowden signed almost every interesting minor league free agent on the market. It’s amazing that they all signed with one organization. I’m guessing their standard NRI contract is better than every other club’s standard offer.

While my opinion of Bowden as a GM is pretty low, this is a great batch of signings.

I’ll try and briefly hit the highlights.

The Pitchers
RHP Tim Redding. It’s been a long time since Redding was a top prospect, but he’s only 28. Last year he pitched for Charlotte, the White Sox’s AAA affiliate, and put up decent numbers. He started 28 games (most since 2003 when he was a regular starter in Houston) and in 187 innings struck out 148, walked 56, and gave up 21 home runs. Now, the crack would be that he’s a classic AAAA guy, who can’t cut it in the majors, but that’s the downside, your AAA team gets a good starter and you have an insurance policy? I think if you plug him in the back of a rotation, that’d be a fine way to eat 180-200 innings on the cheap.

RHP Joel Hanrahan. He’s a former Dodger pitching prospect who was last really good in 2003 in AA. Since then, it looks like he’s fighting a labrum tear: his velocity’s off, and the Dodgers just could not manage to get his mechanics right. But he’s 25. If they think he’s fixable, either mechanically or through rest-and-rehab, it could pay off.

RHP T.J. Nall. TJ is for Thomas John. If I have a kid, I’m not naming them after a surgery. Nall didn’t get past A ball until he was 23, and he’s been bouncing between Jacksonville and Las Vegas since then. Last year he was outstanding in Jacksonville (140 innings, 155 K, 30 BB) but AA at 25 that’s not… relatively outstanding?

He’s not much of a prospect, though. As Baseball America put it when they gave him a nod mid-year:

Not enough of a prospect for the Hot Sheet, too young for Blast From The Past and too old for Helium Watch, it is a conundrum that we often face when putting together this list.

This week, the player that fits that bill is Dodgers righthander T.J. Nall. The 25-year-old moved into the Double-A Jacksonville rotation on May 28 and since then he has won all eight of his starts. In those eight starts, he has 77 strikeouts in 61 innings with a 1.33 ERA. Opponents are hitting just .167 against him.

An eighth-round pick in 1999 out of Schaumberg (Ill.) High, is having by far the most successful season of his career. The only other stop in his minor league career that would approach it would be his 43 innings of relief for low Class A South Georgia in 2002 when he posted a 0.63 ERA. He didn’t make Hot Sheet because he is not enough of a prospect (short righthander with fringe-average stuff) at this point, but his performance warrants mentioning.

RHP Colby Lewis
Remember Colby Lewis? He was a big prospect once. He disappeared after rotator cuff surgery, missed almost all of 2004 and then didn’t pitch in 2005. And yet early returns were shockingly good last year. In Toledo, he was a little homer-prone but struck out 111 and walked 38. Next year he’ll be 27, so he’s like… a better Gil Meche? The really interesting twist here is that the Nationals got someone else to pick up the tab on his rehab, saw that he might be one of the few to return to any kind of effectiveness after shoulder surgery, and then they picked him up.

RHP Jermaine Van Buren.
Minor league closer. Good ratios, decent bullpen filler.

RHP Felix Diaz
Looks like the Hiroshima Carp decided not to pick up his 2007 option. Looks like he didn’t pitch much over there, either. Who knows how he’s doing.

RHP Josh Hall
He’s had a couple shoulder surgeries while he was in the Reds system. Meh.

RHP Winston Abreu, RHP Jim Magrane, LHP Mike Bacsik, LHP Billy White
Roster filler

LHP Chris Michalak
He’ll be 36, and has spent a long, long time in AAA. Roster filler.

The other guys
IF-R Josh Wilson. Interesting utility guy, some bat utility, and has started to steal some bases (17 in 2005, 15 in 2006).

OF-R Michael Restovich. For all the talk about his potential, no one’s ever been willing to give him the at bats. Last year he tore it up in Iowa (.293/.374/.580 (!)) for his year-27 season. Maybe the Nationals are going to let him loose. Or, like all the other teams he’s been through in the last couple of years, they’ll find a reason not to.


32 Responses to “The amazing haul of the the Nationals”

  1. Andy Stallings on November 6th, 2006 6:49 pm

    So — anyone interesting left? Scanning the names from a couple weeks back for former prospects — so many of them come around for a season, it seems like, just when you think they’re done. Is Carlos Hernandez finished? Ainsworth? Tankersley and Brazelton seem to have had it. Matt Riley? Hell, I don’t know.

    Say you’re the Mariners. You’ve only got two starting pitchers. The Nationals are pulling full nets up like it’s Alaska in the 1970s. Who do you grab before it’s too late?

  2. Dave on November 6th, 2006 6:52 pm

    Winston Abreu is better than Julio Mateo. That’s all you need to know about Julio Mate.

    Redding, by the way, was hitting 94 at the end of the year, and his numbers the last two months of the season were pretty terrific. His stuff might finally be back after the arm problems he’s endured.

    Seriously, Redding’s better than Cha Baek or Jake Woods or Jorge Campillo, and he’s not significantly worse than guys like Jeff Suppan. He’s a dream minor league free agent.

  3. David J. Corcoran I on November 6th, 2006 7:08 pm

    Note that Hanrahan, Redding, Wilson, and Restovich were all added to the 40-man roster.

  4. Joe on November 6th, 2006 8:12 pm

    If I have a kid, I’m not naming them after a surgery.

    So no little Epistiotomy Arthroscopic Zumsteg running around the house, eh?

  5. Mat on November 6th, 2006 8:26 pm

    Restovich is somewhat intriguing. I could see him giving the Nats something like Brian Buchanan gave the Padres in his age 28-29 seasons–a .280+ EQA, mainly in PH appearances against LHP. If used right, it seems like he could be a good spare part. (And I have trouble believing that he could’ve done much worse than Jacque Jones did against LHP last year, given the same chance. Not that the Cubs were struggling on offense or anything.) PECOTA is sour enough on him, though, that I wouldn’t want to be giving him an everyday spot.

  6. Dave on November 6th, 2006 8:27 pm

    Restovich is terrible. I could get him out. His swing has more holes than something that has a lot holes.

  7. Jeff Sullivan on November 6th, 2006 9:54 pm

    Charlton Jimerson’s swing?

  8. Mat on November 6th, 2006 10:16 pm

    Restovich is terrible. I could get him out. His swing has more holes than something that has a lot holes.

    AAA pitchers couldn’t get him out. I sense a bit of overstatement here.

  9. colm on November 6th, 2006 10:59 pm

    AAA pitchers don’t have Dave’s scouting smarts. Dave knows just where those holes are.

  10. colm on November 6th, 2006 11:26 pm

    And to think only this morning I was dissing Jim Bowden on this very site.

  11. colm on November 6th, 2006 11:28 pm

    Dave said:
    November 6th, 2006 at 8:27 pm
    Restovich is terrible. I could get him out. His swing has more holes than something that has a lot holes.

    -Blackburn Lancashire?

    Okay, it’s November and I’m coming over all Corcoran. I’m off to bed.

  12. BelaXadux on November 7th, 2006 1:00 am

    The Holy Ghost had only four holes, but that was enough to forestall a major league career. I’m just saying.

  13. BelaXadux on November 7th, 2006 1:02 am

    Redding’s a good pick-up, though. Again, any team with two or more open spots in their rotation should have made a move for him. Unless they have holes in their head not put their by nature. Bowden thinks like a marketing director regarding major league talent, but he has had experience running an underfunded franchise on the cheap, and because of that may have a sense where the bang/buck ratio is optimal. . . . Or his owners told him no ++dough for big league guys this winter.

  14. mln on November 7th, 2006 3:10 am

    Jim Bowden > Bill Bavasi.

    Scary to think, isn’t it?

  15. msb on November 7th, 2006 7:58 am

    is it Jim Bowden or Dana Brown?

  16. terry on November 7th, 2006 7:59 am

    Can I ask a dumb question? Given the Ms have two starters, how does washington grab the *dream* free agent AAA starter?

  17. marc w on November 7th, 2006 8:27 am

    Damn it – between the Pads pick up of Ryan Ketchner and now this, there goes my idea for restocking the system w/minor league FAs.

    Like Mat, I think Restovich isn’t *that* bad. I still remember seeing that 2002 Edmonton team come through, with Restovich, Mike Ryan and Michael Cuddyer (and Matt LeCroy) – every ball those guys hit was just crushed somewhere. Yes, he has some holes – he’ll always put up some staggering K numbers – but so does Russell Branyan; it’s a question of how and how much he’s used. The guy put up a .965 OPS against lefties last year in AAA, and though he still struck out a lot vs. southpaws, he also took some walks.
    Redding seemed to get better as the year went along – is he finally over his shoulder problems?

  18. Evan on November 7th, 2006 9:14 am

    Chris Michalak? Wasn’t he an ambidextrous pitcher when he was a prospect with the Blue Jays? Like 15 years ago?

  19. Jim Thomsen on November 7th, 2006 10:06 am

    So here’s a rosterbator’s challenge … what’s the best team you could build from this year’s [url=]list of minor league free agents[/url]?

  20. Jim Thomsen on November 7th, 2006 10:08 am

    Oops, that link didn’t work right: Minor league free agent list.

  21. Deanna on November 7th, 2006 10:23 am

    Felix Diaz was actually on the Fighters, not the Carp. To be perfectly honest, I don’t remember what happened to him, he had a few bad outings in July and was never heard from again.

  22. Gomez on November 7th, 2006 11:29 am

    This is actually a pretty bold, solid move by an org that was fading last season and had a pretty bare minor league cupboard IIRC. Reload the system and start filtering to find good players.

  23. marc w on November 7th, 2006 11:33 am

    #20 – Good call, Jim!

    My all-minor-league-FA team:
    C: Quiroz/JR House
    1B: Jeff Bailey
    2B: Matt Kata
    3B: Mike Kinkade
    DH: Josh Phelps/Matt LeCroy
    OF: Mike Restovich
    OF: Ty Meadows
    OF: Jon Weber

    SP: Tim Redding
    SP: Joel Hanrahan
    SP: Jeff Harris
    SP: Michael Tejera

    RP: Ryan Ketchner, Kelly Wunsch, Ed Yarnall, TJ Nall, Bart Miadich
    CL: Steve Andrade

    Bench: Tike Redman (defensive replacement/stolen base guy); LeCroy/Phelps, Bret Roneberg, Jared Sandberg, Quiroz/House

    This team isn’t good, per se, but I bet it’d have a better OBP than the 2006 M’s.
    Two spots left on the roster – any ideas? Bo Hart, to make it even more local (Bailey, Phelps, Sandberg, Kinkade have ties to this state)? Slugger off the bench?

  24. Mike Hargrove's Cameltoe on November 7th, 2006 2:29 pm

    #23… Maybe dig up the grave of Jack Cust? He put up a decent SLG (0.549) and OPS (1.016) in the minors, and I’m sure he could be had on the cheap.

  25. lokiforever on November 7th, 2006 2:56 pm

    rosterbation = thread terminator

  26. marc w on November 7th, 2006 3:00 pm

    Yeah, there’s a lot of talk about Cust (and his generally poor attitude), but he’s not technically a minor league free agent, so he wasn’t available for this exercise. In general, minor league sluggers who hit for power but strike out a ton are freely available even if they’re not technically free agents. So yeah, Cust would be a good option if that’s what you needed, as would Kevin Witt, who won the AAA home run derby, and hit 36HRs for the second straight year. He’s been granted free agency 6-8 times, so it’s not like he’s locked up somewhere.

    I’d love to see the M’s make a play at someone like Cust/Witt/House/Phelps or Bailey. Why the hell not? At the very least, I wanna see those guys in Tacoma.

  27. Ralph Malph on November 7th, 2006 4:02 pm

    Ken Phelps? Is he still playing?

  28. RollingWave on November 7th, 2006 9:46 pm

    Or maybe simply because everyone realise that the Nationals give you the best shot at making it to the big leagues ? 😉

  29. msb on November 8th, 2006 8:21 am

    well, the Ms may have missed out on every minor league free agent, but the Moose and MegaMoose have been very popular on the Japan tour ….

  30. Evan on November 8th, 2006 9:27 am


  31. Jim Thomsen on November 8th, 2006 12:07 pm

    The Padres play copycat:

    Agreed to terms with pitchers Frank Brooks, Erick Burke, Adrian Burnside, Mike Johnston, Jack Cassel and Steve Watkins, third baseman Royce Huffman, first baseman Brian Myrow and outfielder Adam Shabala on minor league contracts; invited Brooks, Burke, Burnside, Cassel, Watkins, Huffman, Myrow and Shabala to spring training.

  32. msb on November 8th, 2006 12:59 pm

    and traded Josh Barfield to the Indians for infielder Kevin Kouzmanoff and reliever Andrew Brown …

Leave a Reply

You must be logged in to post a comment.