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No Manny for Nats; Bradley, Hudson Possible

We interrupt your annual "USC blows out a poor overmatched Big Ten team before everyone wonders whether Virginia Tech will actually win a bowl this time" holiday festivus for a brief bit of local baseball news and innuendo, not necessarily in that order.

There was rampant speculation after the disappointing end (for every team that doesn't use an interlocking NY on its hat) to the Mark Teixeira sweepstakes that the Nationals would make a push for top-ticket outfielder target Manny Ramirez. According to multiple sources, most recently's Bill Ladson, that's definitely not the case.

From a numbers and team composition standpoint, the Nats shouldn't be interested in Ramirez. He's a right-handed batting outfielder, a role which Washington can already fill with Josh Willingham, Lastings Milledge, Elijah Dukes, Austin Kearns and Wily Mo Pena. You can't move all those guys, just some of them (Milledge is probably the most attractive commodity on the list). Additionally, Ramirez can be a bit of a clubhouse cancer when things don't go well (something about quitting on Boston?) and he's not exactly a spring chicken; he turns 37 in 2009. The Nats would have to offer Ramirez both more money and more years to convince him to sign in D.C., and that's not the kind of move you want to make with a guy who's nearing 40.

But, there are two guys who the Nationals would love to add to their ranks: outfielder Milton Bradley and second baseman Orlando Hudson.

Bradley had another strong season as a switch hitter for Texas, and his violent argumentative outbursts weren't quite as pronounced as they had been in San Diego and Oakland. Yes, it's another controversial outfielder, but Bradley's a different story than Ramirez, if for no other reason than his price tag; the Nats could probably sign Bradley for three years for little more than it would cost for one year of Ramirez.

Yet Hudson is the player who makes the most sense. He's long been considered a clubhouse leader -- a role the Nationals desperately need filled -- and he could slide in as the team's leadoff hitter overnight. If he doesn't bat leadoff, who will? Remember, manager Manny Acta already said that Anderson Hernandez, the presumptive starting second baseman on the current roster, will not bat leadoff on opening day.

Thoughts? Go ahead natsfan1a and jca. Have at it.

By Cameron Smith  |  January 1, 2009; 7:01 PM ET
Categories:  Nationals  
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Next: Orioles Make Offer to Japanese Pitcher


Oviously Manny is a cancer MUST avoid! I have no doubt they will pass on him.

Don't like Bradley due to many injuries and frequent bad attitudes.

Hudson would be OK, he's a strong hitting 2B, not HOF but strong and like the lead off hitter being solved.

I still like Dunn and let the other OFs compete for time. None of them are proven starters in my book, not yet.

Worried it will be another rough year. Not 102 but rough. Fearing 90. Pitching is lousy and even with our first choice guys healthy, we are a weak hitting club. Above average injuries again and we're horrible.

Posted by: Avar | January 1, 2009 8:20 PM | Report abuse

Cute. the problem is Natsfan1a's insights are so perfect, and mine so ridiculous, we drive off other comments. no need for further discussion. I really will try to limit myself to one per posting. but will fail.

If / when Bradley signs somewhere, I'll figure the AP story will give an accounting of his troubles. I recall that his blow up with the umpire SD, during which his manager restrained / injured him, was sort of a provoked incident and a lousy call. The ump I think brought it on, baiting him into the tizzy. I thought LA and especially Cleveland were the places where Bradley was dumped due to behavior. In Cleveland, Wedge ran him out, and they received Frankilin Gutierrez back. LA traded him to Oakland for Ethier, IIRC. You can judge the quality of a player by what they received back.

If we get serious about Hudson, I think it might be nice for a point / counterpoint on his defense. He has a stellar reputation, but there are several tell-tale stats that suggest he maybe slipping (specifically, the data driven estimates of range like UZR / RZR). A good one for point counterpoint between the Insiders who are numbers inclined and the observational ones.

As an aside, currently there is a tendency for umps to bait players much more than a decade + ago, and its not a good trend, either. Admittedly, there are hitters who think they never take a strike, but the new computerized pithc tracking systems often show the hitters and pitchers who notoriously complain have a better sense of the strike zone than the umps. The old "if Wade Boggs takes a pitch, it's not a strike."

Posted by: jca-CrystalCity | January 2, 2009 8:38 AM | Report abuse

Cute indeed. I suspect that comments will pick up with the end of the holiday period (and perhaps an increase in baseball happenings). I also suspect that at least some insider denizens may have been watching not football but rather Don Larsen's perfect game as part of the debut of the MLB Network.

Also, I think you had that backwards, jca, as your armchair GM experience and knowledge far exceed mine. Seriously, I learn a lot from comments like yours.

But I'll weigh in just to help pick up activity a bit.

I like Milledge and would prefer to see him be given more of a chance to develop. But I also understand that he has trade value.

As I've stated over on NJ, I'm in the Just Say No to Manny camp.

Thanks for the background on Bradley, jca. I will try to reserve judgment on the "issues player" front, and I also recall reading that Bradley was provoked in the SD incident. But do we really need more outfielders?

I'll defer to the wisdom and experience of Avar and jca on Hudson.

I have had a similar impression to that of jca regarding ump behavioral trends, and to me it has seemed that certain individuals are more prone to it than others.

Posted by: natsfan1a1 | January 2, 2009 9:28 AM | Report abuse

Thanks, Cameron, this is good. I'd stay away from Bradley with a ten-foot pole. While you are right that he was apparently more restrained in Texas, the fact is that he is another guy with a bad attitude, and the Nats don't need more of those in the clubhouse. They need a couple veteran leaders who also can get it done on the field. Even if Bradley has turned things around to the extent that he is not a major negative in the clubhouse, I think it's a sure bet that he's not going to be a net positive. And the Nats need to shed their label as the Isle of Misfit Players.

I would go after Hudson--he fills needs, and even if he is not a long-term answer who might fit in with "The Plan," the Nats need some steadying influence from established vets who do *not* look like they came off the misfits reclamation heap. Guys who will set the tone for the younger players who might take The Plan to the next level down the road. I always thought it was funny when the Nats said that Dmitri was going to mentor Dukes, and how Dmitri pretty much mocked that notion from the start. Guys like Dukes and Milledge (if he's still around) need some vets who have gotten it done and can mentor them on the field. I think Hudson helps fill that role.

Switching gears here now, you are the person who keeps this blog going, and I appreciate that, as do others I'm sure. But where are your writers/reporters? Is all that we have to look forward to from The Post an analysis from one of the editors, using Bill Ladson as a "source"? Why aren't Chico and Sheinin doing any reporting and serving as "sources"? Why, for that matter, isn't Chico doing any analysis on the NJ blog? Since Tex was signed, other than a column from Boz the only analysis we've seen from The Post about "what should the Nats do now" came from you. That subject screams out for analysis and reporting from Chico as the Nats beat writer, but we get none of it. Chico doesn't do reporting or analysis apparently--I guess he is too busy doing polls and putting spreadsheets together. Oh well, I guess at least we should be thankful for Ladson, so you have someone to use a source for your own analysis, which we can then read here. Thanks again for that, at least...

Posted by: CoverageisLacking | January 2, 2009 9:42 AM | Report abuse

In order for us to get a decent idea where JimBow is headed we need some answers on what they think of existing players.

1. Is Milledge going to get another shot at CF in ST or has that ship sailed?

2. If Milledge is now a corner only OFer, do they think Dukes can play CF or are they looking to outside candidates?

3. If they sign Dunn, do they view him as a LF/1B to play with NJ (when healthy) or as a replacement for NJ?

Posted by: estuartj | January 2, 2009 10:45 AM | Report abuse

Ahh, off-season rumours - the fuel that fires the hot stove.

As suggested by Cameron, Bradley would come at a reasonable price, but doesn't fit enough of the Nationals needs. He's rarely healthy, has some anger management issues, and there's no room in the current OF.

I've said this before, but Hudson would be a very good fit if the FO could get him on a short-term contract (2-3 years) for a reasonable price ($7-9M/yr).

Milledge may be our 'most marketable' asset in the OF, but he's also a very well-rounded player, with speed, gap power and youth (23) on his side. The only way the Nationals should consider moving him is if they were getting equal value in return - not prospects, but a proven SP or LH batter that can play 1B.

Posted by: BinM | January 2, 2009 10:54 AM | Report abuse

Does the Front Office realise that 25% of the current 40-man roster is occupied by OF's? Bernadina, Casto, Davis, Dukes, Harris, Kearns, Maxwell, Milledge, Pena, and Willingham - that's 10 players for three starting spots & two seats on the bench. Granted, Harris & Casto are looked upon more as utility players, but come on.

Posted by: BinM | January 2, 2009 11:17 AM | Report abuse

As to the OF "glut" I don't see it as a major issue for the 40 man roster. If we need an extra roster slot they can DFA WMP without much risk of him being claimed or deciding to go FA (If he did go FA would we still owe him the $2mil?) Maxwell might also be DFA-able with his injury history.

The problem will come at the end of ST when we can only keep 5 of those guys (if you count Harris as an OFer, I think he's more of a 2Bman/utility guy to me (call him the 25th man). IF they don't make any more moves I think the starting line-up with be Johnson at 1b and Willingham/Milledge/Dukes in the outfield (see my post above on the questions about where they will play) with Kearns off the bench. When NJ goes down then Willingham goes to 1B and your outfield is Milledge/Dukes/Kearns, which is pretty good defensively, but is a recipe for 90 loses because of their batting limitations.

Posted by: estuartj | January 2, 2009 12:32 PM | Report abuse

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