Josh Willingham was excited about being scheduled to get his first career start at first base Sunday before Austin Kearns was scratched due to illness. Instead Willingham would have to settle for going 2-3 with a homer and three RBI, leading the Nationals to a 5-3 victory over the Pirates.
It appears Nick Johnson will be surfing while Joe Beimel will be skiing as the trade deadline has passed and reports have the two former Nats in new uniforms.
As rumored here, Johnson was traded to the Marlins for former first round pitching prospect Aaron Thompson.
Thompson has been extremely successful through high A ball but in the last two years he has been stuck in AA. This isn’t too uncalled for as a high school talent, but it is a slight sign of concern. So far in 20 starts in AA this season, Thompson is 5-9 with a 4.11 ERA. He has struck out 75 in 114 innings and has walked 43.
The conditions of the Beimel trade at this moment are unknown.
The question now arises, who will play first base for the Nationals with Nick Johnson shipped to Florida.
Josh Willingham and Adam Dunn both have experience playing first but either are hardly plus defenders at the position. Ronnie Belliard has been known to fill in at first here and there, but his bat and size leave much to be desired.
In the minors, one of the clubs top hitting prospects, Chris Marrero, is currently having a great year in high class A Potomac. The former first round draft pick is batting .302/.372/.485 with 14 homers and 175 total bases, however he is still at least one more full year away from contributing.
Could it be that we may see the rise of Syracuse first-basemen Bradley Ross Eldred!?!?
To refresh your memories Eldred is the enormous first basemen we spotted in spring training this year launching game winning homers.
To quote Poppa Yoder:
“Brad Eldred is a non-roster invitee to Nats camp, who hit 35 homers with 100 RBI in the International League last year. The Nats signed the 6'5", 290 pound right-handed hitter as a minor league free agent in December. Unfortunately Eldred is 29 years old and has been stuck at AAA since 2004. Twenty-eight year olds like Eldred, who strike out five times as often as they walk in AAA are not prospects. Worst of all, Eldred is primarily a first baseman who occasionally takes his glove to the outfield. Thats right- the Nats have still another power-hitting firstbaseman/outfielder with problems making contact. Eldred's walk off homer will be a moment to remember - even in spring training, but if the Nats end up giving many regular season plate appearances to Eldred, you will know that something has gone terribly wrong with their season.”
Eldred is currently batting .279/.350/.498 with 14 homers and 23 doubles in 86 games for Syracuse.
USA Today reports that Joe Beimel has been traded to the Colorado Rockies, no other confirmation yet. No report as to who the trade was for.
Marlins and Nationals still in discussions over Johnson, however it seems a trade is unlikely.no comments
The Marlins have upped their offer for Johnson, reportedly offering another minor leaguer along with pitching prospect Ryan Tucker in return for the Nationals firstbasman.
Stay tuned...no comments
To help preview the coming series against the Pirates, The Nats Blog sat down with Pat from Where Have You Gone Andy Van Slyke (WHYGAVS), one of the top Pirates blogs on the net.
Here’s what he had to say.
The Nats Blog: Nyjer Morgan has been a great addition to the Nationals for the last 25 games. The centerfielder has put up lines of .389/.416/.484 with 37 runs in that stretch. You of course got to see a much larger sample size of Morgans abilities, what are your thoughts on him?
WHYGAVS: Morgan is a great guy and he's a fun player to watch, but I still don't think he's a viable long-term lead-off hitter. Way too much of his offensive performance is tied up in batting average and I think in that regard, he's much closer to the .277/.351/.356 player than the one you've seen the last month. The upside of it for the Nationals is that you can justify playing a player with that kind of bat if he has a good glove in center. The Pirates didn't have room for him there with Andrew McCutchen emerging. As long as the Nats don't fall captive to the idea that speed = leadoff hitter, I think Morgan can be a nice player for you guys.
TNB: The Pirates have been extremely busy this month with trades, how do you feel about the direction the Pirates are taking?
WHYGAVS: I couldn't be happier. Neal Huntington took over what was essentially a 67-70 win team late in 2007 that had practically nothing in the minor leagues besides McCutchen and maybe Brad Lincoln, who was recovering from Tommy John surgery at the time. In the two years since, he's torn down the Dave Littlefield construct and added players with talent and potential by the boatload; Jose Tabata, Tim Alderson, Jeff Clement, Jeff Locke, Charlie Morton, Gorkys Hernandez, Ross Ohlendorf, a passel of lower minor-league pitchers, and yes, Lastings Milledge have all arrived by trade while Pedro Alvarez and others have arrived through the draft. It may result in poor short-term results for the Pirates, but it's the only way to be viable in the long-term.
TNB: Who do you feel will be ready to compete sooner, the Nationals or the Pirates?
WHYGAVS: I may be a bit biased here, but I really do think it's the Pirates. I look at the Nationals and see a team that's where the Pirates were prior to 2007; ownership asserting itself too strongly on the front office, and a kind of directionless approach to player development and acquisition. Until the Lerners back off a little bit and until a full GM is hired, I can't see things moving in the right direction for the Nats, even if you manage to bring Strasburg into the fold (sorry!).
TNB: What do the Pirates need to do to be successful this series?
WHYGAVS: They have to hit. In their past five games, the Pirates have scored 0, 0, 2, 2, and 0 runs. With that kind of output, they're not going to beat anyone.
TNB: Any players we should keep our eyes on?
WHYGAVS: McCutchen is a ton of fun to watch. It's hard to believe, but I think he's actually faster than Morgan on the base paths and he's up to full speed seemingly two steps out of the batter's box. Charlie Morton, who should be pitching Sunday or Monday (the rotation is a bit in flux with yesterday's addition of Kevin Hart) has a very good, live fastball and a great curveball. And to be honest, despite all the bad things I've heard, I'm really interested to see what Milledge does with his fresh start after he went down to Triple-A Indianapolis and hit .333/.425/.433 in his short stint there.
Asking Jim Bowden to weigh his expertise on trade deadline moves is like:
Asking Sarah Palin to write a coherent speech.
Asking Sarah Palin to write a coherent speech.
Getting Mark McGwire to shut up about the past.
Barry Bonds winning a sportsmanship AND humanitarian award in the same season.
Brett Favre giving a lecture on the importance of sticking to key life decisions.
Asking Bill O’reilly to judge a journalistic integrity contest
Making Rush Limbaugh the chairman of the Democratic Party.
Historic French generals writing military textbooks on securing the homeland
Meghan Fox discussing inner beauty
Britney Spears winning a voice contest
Fred Smoot giving English lessons
Ozzy Osborne talking about diction
Discussing the 2009 Nationals playoff chances, and being serious
David Hassleoff judging talent…oh wait
Billy Mays (RIP) doing a PSA before a movie asking you to “keep it down”
Paris Hilton talking to high school students about responsibility
Lets hear yours?
FOXSports.com reports that the Florida Marlins are making a ‘strong push,’ for the Nationals’ first basemen Nick Johnson.
The Marlins reportedly have offered the Nationals a deal of one pitching prospect in return for Johnson. The two names being discussed are AA left-hander Aaron Thompson and AAA right-hander Ryan Tucker.