- The Washington Times - Monday, August 17, 2009

THE BUZZ

Tracking the Nationals’ news and trends from the past week:

D-DAY FOR STRASBURG [UP]

Sign or don’t sign — either way, it’s enough already

GM DECISION [UP]

Final choice of Rizzo, Hoyer or DiPoto could come this week

JORDAN ZIMMERMANN [DOWN]

Gutsy rookie faces long recovery from Tommy John surgery

NEXT YEAR’S No. 1 PICK [DOWN]

Nationals are gaining ground on Royals, Pirates, Padres and Orioles

EX-NATIONALS PLAYERS OF THE WEEK

Washington’s trade with Pittsburgh looked good when it was made, and it only looks better now. While Nyjer Morgan and Sean Burnett have paid huge dividends for the Nationals, Lastings Milledge and Joel Hanrahan haven’t done much of anything for the Pirates. In 14 games since the trade, Milledge is hitting .232 with six RBI and a paltry .286 slugging percentage. Plus, he has had a few shaky moments in left field. Hanrahan has done better, posting a 3.00 ERA in 17 relief appearances, but he’s pitching mostly in garbage time and often not even completing an inning.

MINOR LEAGUE WATCH

Remember Colton Willems? He was one of two first-round picks by the Nationals in the 2006 draft (along with Chris Marrero), a high school right-hander expected to work his way up through the system and reach the big leagues in perhaps 2010. Doesn’t look like that will be happening now. Willems was successful the past two years at Vermont and Hagerstown, but he struggled to a 1-4 record and 7.40 ERA at Potomac this season and is currently pitching in relief in the rookie Gulf Coast League (where he has allowed five runs in only 3 1/3 innings). Willems just turned 21, so he hardly qualifies as a bust. But the clock is ticking on a former first-rounder who is proving there are no guarantees with young pitchers.

Mark Zuckerman

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