By Barry Svrluga
Washington Post Staff Writer
Tuesday, November 7, 2006
The Washington Nationals, in desperate need of pitching at all levels and intent on improving what has long been a thin minor league system, yesterday announced the signings of 21 minor league free agents -- including 13 pitchers -- who they believe will help add depth to an organization that badly needs it.
Four of the players -- outfielder Michael Restovich, who played with the Minnesota Twins; infielder Josh Wilson; and right-handers Tim Redding and Joel Hanrahan -- were added to the team's 40-man roster, a decision General Manager Jim Bowden said was made because other clubs were also in pursuit. With a pitching staff that has only one starter, John Patterson, guaranteed to return, the Nationals could end up hoping one or more of these players fills out the back end of the rotation.
"We're very pleased that our scouting department has done such a thorough job in being able to sign this quality of player," Bowden said. "Especially the pitching."
Most of the signings will have little impact on the major league roster next season, but there are several players who should help stock Class AAA Columbus, adding more stability there. Redding, 28, went 12-10 with a 3.40 ERA for Class AAA Charlotte in 2006, but spent parts of the 2001-05 seasons in the majors, making 32 starts for Houston in 2003. Hanrahan, 25, was a second-round choice of the Dodgers in 2000, but never made it to the big leagues, going 62-45 in seven minor league seasons.
Pitchers such as Jermaine Van Buren, who pitched in the Boston system, and Winston Abreu, a right-hander who got hammered in his big league debut for Baltimore this season but posted a 2.48 ERA as a reliever in Class AAA, could also be serviceable call-ups.
In other news, ex-big leaguer Tom Paciorek, who served as a color analyst on the team's television broadcasts on the Mid-Atlantic Sports Network, was told that his contract would not be renewed. Paciorek said he was told by Chris Glass, MASN's executive producer, that the Nationals had made the decision.
"I was really disappointed, because of all my 19 years in broadcasting, this was the most fun I've had," Paciorek said yesterday. "I was most proud of what we accomplished this year because I love being part of a team, and I thought we were really well-received.
"But I've also been in this business long enough to know that I don't appeal to people in high authority. I'm not sure why."
Paciorek said he would retire from broadcasting, "because this is the only job I wanted."
Nationals President Stan Kasten declined to comment, as did MASN General Manager Bob Whitelaw. Play-by-play man Bob Carpenter is signed through 2007.