2009 comes on July 31
GM Jim Bowden called it turning the page. The one trade Washington made today played only a small role in remodeling the feeling of the entire roster.
Gone: Paul Lo Duca, 36.
Gone: Felipe Lopez, 28.
Both were underperforming vets. Together, they were earning $9.9 million this season. Until 4 p.m. today, Washington looked for takers.
"That was our preference," Bowden said.
But he couldn't find any.
So instead, after today's game, he released both. And in turn, Washington recalled Elijah Dukes from his rehab assignment and formally added SS Alberto Gonzalez, acquired earlier in the day from the Yankees, to its roster. The team also announced its intentions to recall 2B-of-the-future Emilio Bonifacio tomorrow. All are likely to be a part of next year's team. In some cases, a big part of next year's team.
As part of this whole roster makeover, the release of C Johnny Estrada, designated for assignment last week, was also formalized.
You can read more about this in, um, a few minutes online (once the Post Web site is updated), but here's the filler with some quotes from those involved:
On the strategy:
We're going to turn the page. We're going to get younger for the last two months and we're going to continue to develop young players. We want players here that are going to hustle and play the game hard and play the game right. We just feel at this point we need to give younger players an opportunity and we're going to do that.
It's a disappointment, as I told Felipe. I traded for him twice; I'm a fan of his talent . . . I love Felipe, we just couldn't get the talent on the field. It's time for us to go in a different direction, and to do that I think it's better. We tried to deal him, we weren't able to do it. I think its better for him and the club that we both part ways at this time.
On the reaction:
They both took it professionally, both of them, extremely professionally. Paul understand. Look, when he came here he signed to be the everyday catcher so we could develop Jesus Flores. It's not his fault that he broke his hand and got hurt. Jesus came up here and all of the sudden he was ready for the major leagues; that's not his fault either. It doesn't do any good to sit on the bench here and not play.
On the interest of other teams. None?
That's right. We tried to move both of them; that was our preference. When we got to the deadline today and didn't have any interest, we felt this was the better to deal with it this way for our ballclub going forward.
"Things happen you never expect them. Anything can happen. This is definitely not the end of me. I'm still young. I'm healthy. It didn't go well for me here, but it's not the end of the world. I wish everybody the best. I've got nothing bad to say about the Nationals... To get released and leave everybody, it's not good. But I understand the business and everything. They just signed a couple young guys that deserve a chance just like I did when I went up. I don't have nothing bad to say. I wish those guys the best."
"When Jim and Manny just called me in there, I apologized, I feel bad. I'm a better player than I played; it's just an unfortunate year this year. I had the knee surgery and just when I started to feel healthy, I broke my hand. I actually started to feel better at the plate. Their reasons are verified, definitely. Kory needs to play. He has future with this organization. And a lot of these guys here, especially Jesus, they need to play. Them giving me my release is sort of a class act by them.
"I think they're making the right move. Other guys in here need to play and I'm taking up a spot. Bottom line. You gotta be honest with yourself. Do think can play? Yeah, most definitely. And I'm going to come back next year, if it doesn't happen this year, and I'm going to shove it to a lot of people, believe me. I can play this game, I know I can. It's just unfortunate. But like I said, a lot of the young kids here need to play. I'm not going to be here next year. Those guys need to get at-bats and learn up here. This is an organization that's going to go in the right direction."
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