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Posted at 11:47 AM ET, 12/ 6/2010

Lerner: Werth is a winner, Phase Two starts now

By Dan Steinberg



So Mark Lerner is now blogging from the Winter Meetings. His first entry is here. Understandably, his first post concerns the Jayson Werth signing, and his justification was succinct: "He is truly a fantastic two-way player, a bright young man ... and he is a winner!"

!

Lerner also echoed Mike Rizzo's assessment that the franchise has now entered Phase Two of its life cycle, which will apparently replace The Plan as the lingo du jour around South Capitol Street. That means big-P Phase, big-T Two from now on, copy editors.

As Mike Rizzo alluded to in his press gathering, the Werth signing signals that the Nationals have evolved from Phase One to Phase Two of our operation. As we've always said, Phase One is the building stage and is focused on scouting and player development. Remember, this organization was largely void of any minor-league talent upon relocating to DC. Phase One is actually an on-going phase, but we are confident enough about where we stand in our system to move on. That is what set the stage for our agreement with Jayson. We will continue to explore any smart moves that complement our player development system.

While I'm hoping for an upcoming post among owners cutting loose, the important thing is that Lerner is now one of us. That makes him the third local owner to blog, following Ted Leonsis and D.C. United's Will Chang. I can only think of one major local team whose ownership has yet to blog. Will get back to you on that.

By Dan Steinberg  | December 6, 2010; 11:47 AM ET
Categories:  Nats  
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Comments

Actually Dan Snyder does blog but its under the pen name Larry Michael

Posted by: JDP_ | December 6, 2010 11:58 AM | Report abuse

DC United is owned by somebody named Will Chang?

Posted by: jpfterps | December 6, 2010 11:59 AM | Report abuse

Dan Snyder has a Myspace page though and Larry Michael is in his top 8!

Posted by: MrWillie | December 6, 2010 12:12 PM | Report abuse

I thought Phase I was collect the underpants and Phase III was the profit.

Posted by: Fitz157 | December 6, 2010 12:12 PM | Report abuse

"I can only think of one major local team whose ownership has yet to blog."

But Dan are you willing to pay a premium to read it once he does? You know it won't be free.

Posted by: the_local | December 6, 2010 12:26 PM | Report abuse

Phase Two: Overpay for aging players whose upside isn't all that high.

The Nationals just dropped Adam Dunn (who's good for 35 HR/110 RBI nearly every season) and replaced him with a one-time All Star who's never had 100 RBI. Brilliant.

Posted by: Incredulous2 | December 6, 2010 1:04 PM | Report abuse

Mark Lerner's first blog post is much, much better than Ryan Zimmerman's of a few years ago, in which Zim revealed that he has a little dog named Miley - after Miley Cyrus.

I don't believe Zim is still blogging. If he is, I don't believe anyone is reading.

Posted by: FeelWood | December 6, 2010 1:23 PM | Report abuse

Soooo... why sign Adam Dunn in Phase I if it's all about development? And most importantly, why not resign him in Phase II?

And, for the record, I firmly believe that you cannot call player development a "phase". It's more of just what teams do.

Posted by: law3 | December 6, 2010 1:35 PM | Report abuse

If Phillies fans, attending home games on the road at Nats Park, boo their former star out of his own road ballpark at home, does it tear a hole in the fabric of space time?

Posted by: bryc3 | December 6, 2010 1:37 PM | Report abuse

7 years, $126 mil on a 31-year-old outfielder after a peak season? With a glaring hole at first base and still major questions about this team's pitching?

Does Dan Snyder secretly own this team?

Posted by: StuScott_Booyahs | December 6, 2010 3:26 PM | Report abuse

Jesus. Some people really can't allow themselves to be happy when they hear good news about their favorite teams. Last I checked, there is no salary cap in baseball. Last I checked, the Nats have no history of over spending on washed up athletes. Last I checked, Jayson Werth is one of the better all around players in baseball. Last I checked, this immediately improves this team.

Don't worry, be happy.

Posted by: Barno1 | December 6, 2010 4:18 PM | Report abuse

@Barno1: Lerner is not Steinbrenner. He's not going to have a $200 million payroll every year. If you don't think having $18 million tied up in a 39-year-old is going to be bad for the team, with or without the salary cap, then you are optimistic indeed.

Posted by: StuScott_Booyahs | December 6, 2010 4:27 PM | Report abuse

ammonite88 wrote:
Quick check of the stats.

Dunn born Nov79 HR 354 BA .250 SLG .521 OPS .902

Werth born May79 HR 120 BA .272 SLG .481 OPS .848

So Dunn was not worth a 4th year at $14M, but Werth is worth 7 years at $18M? Must be the defense.

I admit to being very surprised by this deal. I had concluded that the Lerners were just cheap. Now I wonder if they are profoundly bipolar. I don't feel any better.
*******************************************

Having watched the Nats go from .500 ball and 1st place at the All-Star break to almost 300 losses in three years under the Lerners, I can't just "be happy when I hear good news." If you think signing Cliff Lee w/o Dunn would help this team, just look at the Mariners last year. You need power to win. The Nats had power-the rarest commmoditiy in baseball. The Nats gave it away. There's not enough air-freshener in the DMV to take away the stink of this team. The Lerners told us we were getting Tysons, and gave us Landmark Mall.

Posted by: flynnie321 | December 6, 2010 4:34 PM | Report abuse

ammonite88 wrote:
Quick check of the stats.

Dunn born Nov79 HR 354 BA .250 SLG .521 OPS .902

Werth born May79 HR 120 BA .272 SLG .481 OPS .848

So Dunn was not worth a 4th year at $14M, but Werth is worth 7 years at $18M? Must be the defense.

I admit to being very surprised by this deal. I had concluded that the Lerners were just cheap. Now I wonder if they are profoundly bipolar. I don't feel any better.
*******************************************

Having watched the Nats go from .500 ball and 1st place at the All-Star break to almost 300 losses in three years under the Lerners, I can't just "be happy when I hear good news." If you think signing Cliff Lee w/o Dunn would help this team, just look at the Mariners last year. You need power to win. The Nats had power-the rarest commmoditiy in baseball. The Nats gave it away. There's not enough air-freshener in the DMV to take away the stink of this team. The Lerners told us we were getting Tyson's. Thay gave us Landmark Mall.

Posted by: flynnie321 | December 6, 2010 4:35 PM | Report abuse

Barno,

We aren't going to get a $100MM free agent every year. MLB doesn't set a salary cap, but you know Lerner has one. Now we don't have any money for pitchers. We're screwed. We're screwed and doomed.

People say "We need to make a statement". Winning makes a statement. This won't help us win. Pitching will help us win. This statement says, "We're desperate to appease the fans".

Posted by: GeorgeTowner2 | December 6, 2010 4:38 PM | Report abuse

Entirely aside from the pros and cons of the deal, I am happy to see Mark Lerner blogging.

This ownership has, to an astonishing degree, had a tin ear for fan relations and has utterly failed to demonstrate a personal passion for the game, and for winning.

If Mark Lerner can start to do that, and also convince the fan base that he, and not daddy, is making major decisions, it will be a big plus for the franchise, regardless of how individual transactions work out.

Posted by: Meridian1 | December 6, 2010 5:11 PM | Report abuse

Mark Lerner's daddy owns the Nats and he has yet to make a blog post.

Posted by: PowerBoater69 | December 6, 2010 6:18 PM | Report abuse

The Lerners told us we were getting Tyson's. Thay gave us Landmark Mall.

Posted by: flynnie321 | December 6, 2010 4:35 PM | Report abuse

Shows what ya'll know. Tysons a S***hole dump in the middle of no where, with no mass transit that only rich people go to. As the saying goes, "f-it, let it burn"

Posted by: alex35332 | December 6, 2010 7:03 PM | Report abuse

>>>@Barno1: Lerner is not Steinbrenner. He's not going to have a $200 million payroll every year. If you don't think having $18 million tied up in a 39-year-old is going to be bad for the team, with or without the salary cap, then you are optimistic indeed.<<<

The Lerners actually have far more money than the Steinbrenners. It's not even close.

So if someone could afford to pay a 39-year-old, $18 million, it's the Lerner family.

Posted by: p_chuck | December 6, 2010 7:29 PM | Report abuse

Shows what ya'll know. Tysons a S***hole dump in the middle of no where, with no mass transit that only rich people go to.

Posted by: alex35332 | December 6, 2010 7:03 PM | Report abuse

Hmm...no transit for the masses, only rich people go there...sound good to me!

Posted by: GeorgeTowner2 | December 6, 2010 7:34 PM | Report abuse

Gotta agree-even if this ends up being a ridiculously overpaid contract, it's a good signal for both the short and long run future of the Nats.

In the short run-Werth immediately becomes the best outfielder on the team. It's a shame that Dunn walked, you can't just replace 40hr per year, but it's a sign that ownership is not interested in tanking 2011 while waiting for Stras and Harpers to return/come to the majors.

In the long run-it's finally a sign that this team is interested in being a major player in the free agent market. Since the Lerner's have taken over this team, they have constantly preached patience and development of a minor league system that was essentially non-existant. The first couple of years were hamstrung by the mostly incompetent GMing of Bowden. However, 2010 was the first year where the homegrown talent began showing some promise.

The nationals were at a crossroads. They could continue to operate as a small budget, minor league farm system for the rest of the leage (Pitt and Florida), where they continue to make a tidy profit with a microscopic budget. They could begin becoming major players in the free agent market, adding to their homegrown core and signaling that they were going to become a real contender. A 100+ loss team is of course going to have to pay a premium for any free agent to come here. Nevertheless, it was a signal to the rest of the league that the Nats intend to be legitimate contenders for the future.

I hope it's just the first of many free agent signings.

Posted by: jbanks979 | December 7, 2010 9:37 AM | Report abuse

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