May 31, 2006

Fire & Eischen

Joey is literally and figuratively out of ammo.

And so the ballad of Joey Eischen limps to its long-anticipated end. The veteran LOOGY has hocked up his last 2-hit, 3-BB, 4-run third of an inning for the Nats this season. Eischen was placed on the 60-day DL, and will likely have surgery on a partially torn rotator cuff in the not-too-distant future. His spot in the bullpen will be taken by 2004 1st round pick (and W&M grad) Bill Bray, making the Nats the only team in baseball to have their last 3 first round picks on the active roster. The move also gives the team 6 pitchers on the 60-day DL, which might be some kind of record.

On one level this is sad. I genuinely liked Joey for his candor, his funky wind-up, and his scary potential serial killer demeanor. But I'm glad to see that, in what are hopefully the waning days of his tenure as GM, Jim Bowden is leaning more heavily on the farm system and evaluating some of our younger players instead of trading for washed up veterans like Junior Spivey or Deivi Cruz.

With new ownership coming on board and a renewed commitment to player development it will be useful to know whether guys like Bray, Shawn Hill, Saul Rivera, Mike Vento and Santiago Ramirez have anything to contribute at the big league level. Now if we can just get Trader Jim to jettison one of the Anderson-Fick-Jackson-LeCroy-Ward conglomerate in favor of giving Brendan Harris a legitimate audition, we might have a genuine youth movement in the making.

On another level, this is yet another reason to second guess the Nats medical staff. Eischen had this condition all off-season, he even started spring training late because of the soreness in his shoulder. Is this maybe something that should have been looked at a little more agressively before he was re-signed, given a default spot in the bullpen and trotted out there to blow at least two games that I can remember? As usual, I don't have an answer for these medically-oriented questions, they just make me wonder. In the meantime I wish Joey nothing but a swift rehab and a complete recovery next season.

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