As I highlighted in the recent Farm Reports, the Nationals shuffled quite a few players in their farm system over the past few days. Here is how the dust settled:
- New Orleans
- Promoted to Washington: RH RP Jay Bergmann and LH SP Mike O’Connor
- Added: LH SP Billy Traber (demoted from Washington); CA Russ Cleveland (promoted from Potomac)
- Off DL: OF Kenny Kelly and 2B Bernie Castro
- On DL: OF George Lombard
- Designated for assignment (status pending): OF Ty Godwin and CA Wiki Gonzalez
- Added: OF Ender Chavez (promoted from Potomac)
- Demoted: OF/DH Tony Blanco (sent to Potomac)
- Lost: OF Ender Chavez (promoted to Harrisburg); CA Russ Cleveland (promoted to New Orleans)
- Added: OF/DH (demoted from Harrisburg); IF/OF Doug Vroman (promoted from Vermont/extended spring training)
- Off DL: 3B Leonard Davis
- Demoted: IF Ofilio Castro (sent to Vermont/extended spring training)
Additionally, there are reports from Bill Ladson that the Nats may be making the call to the minors again for a SP.
If the bullpen is overworked before Sunday’s game and Day can’t pitch, the Nationals are prepared to bring up right-hander Shawn Hill from Double-A Harrisburg. Hill has recovered from elbow reconstruction and is 2-1 with a 1.86 ERA in five starts. If he starts on Sunday, he will pitch on three days’ rest.
First, Mike O’Connor is recalled to start a game on three days rest. Now, there is a possibility that Shawn Hill may follow suit on Sunday. What does all of this thrashing mean? It highlights the SP problem facing the Nationals, a combination of injuries (Ryan Drese, Pedro Astacio, and John Patterson) and ineffectiveness (Ramon Ortiz and Livan Hernandez). The Nationals have been placed in a position where they are going to have to designate multiple players for assignment (in addition to Gonzalez and Godwin) in order to open up spots on the 40-man roster for serviceable arms to help out.
If Hill is in fact needed for Sunday, the Nationals will have to designate someone else for assignment in order to add him to their 40-man roster. Candidates are likely to be the recently demoted Blanco, recalled and never used RH RP Saul Rivera, or more drastically, the release of a guy on the 25-man roster, such as LH RP Joey Eischen.
The demotion of Blanco could be a sign that his days with the organization as a member of the 40-man roster are dwindling. If he isn’t removed for pitching help, it may make sense to designate him in order to add a backup catcher, perhaps Alberto Castillo. With Russ Cleveland and soon to be returning Brandon Harper (broken finger), the Zephyrs will again have three catchers on their roster (not to mention the chances that Wiki Gonzalez isn’t claimed and accepts assignment to New Orleans). Ideally, once the thrashing over who comprises the rotation for the Nats is over, they can add an honest to goodness backup catcher and not a DH who can wear the equipment.
The bottom line is that the Nationals are frantically shuffling the end of their 25-man in hopes they find something that sticks. Not a position you want to be in this early in the season.
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