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Who to trade? Who to keep?

Sitting on the Acela to Philadelphia, and ran into Bob Carpenter and Debbi Taylor from MASN, so I have some traveling companions. Lots of discussion of the trade market, etc., as you can imagine.

So the reviews on this Belliard deal are pretty good from y'all so far, no? Here's what I wrote this morning, both on Belliard and Dunn and the idea that, despite what we've been telling you, the Nationals might actually be more buyers than sellers at this point. Yes, there are pieces that could be sold, to be sure, but it's not a fire sale type situation, and I hope I never represented it that way. As Jim Bowden told me last night, "We're trying to build, not tear down."

I couldn't fit everything Bowden and Belliard said into the story (which ran with a graphic in the $.35 edition on the other guys who other teams are looking at), so here's a little more.

I asked Belliard why he chose to do this when, if he were to hit .300 for the year, he might get a more lucrative deal on the open market. He reminded me that he had told me the reasons before: "All the guys on the team. Like I've said before, they never quit. They go about their business. That's the biggest reason I like to come back."

Bowden said the reasons for keeping him hinged on two factors - his versatility in the field and his versatility in roles. He seems to be equally effective coming off the bench or getting spot time as he is as an everyday guy. "As you've all watched, our record since the middle of May is over .500," Bowden said. "We had a key injury to Cristian Guzman, and Ronnie Belliard stepped in at second and we continued to compete. He turns the double play. He's always there working extra. He's a good influence on the young players, and he wants to stay in D.C. He's a good piece for us to have."

Bowden was a little defensive when I asked if this effectively took Belliard off the trade market. I understand the conspiracy theories that this makes the guy more tradable, but I actually think they want to keep this guy. As Bowden said, everybody could be traded for the right price, but Manny Acta's a huge Belliard fan, and a good team needs pieces like this.

What this means for the other guys: As I've said before - and as Bowden's said - they might not make a trade before the deadline. I still think the most likely to get moved is Dmitri Young, though there are some folks internally who would like to keep him, particularly because Nick Johnson's status continues to be up in the air. They could sign him after the season if they're unsure about Johnson, or they believe - and again, this hasn't been determined yet - that he would qualify as a Type B free agent, meaning they'd get a compensatory draft pick for him if he left to play elsewhere.

Young is supposed to be in the lineup today after missing three starts with a bruised heel. If he's going to be traded, he has to play the rest of the week.

We've discussed the pros and cons for trading Young here before, but let's get your thoughts on some of the other guys. Again, such discussions are, at one level, pointless if you don't know what the club would get in return. But I'd be interested in your thoughts about whether you think these guys will be valuable pieces in 2008-2009 and beyond.

Chad Cordero:
Career stats - 18-13, 110 saves in 131 opportunities, 2.61 ERA in 271 appearances.
2007 stats - 1-2, 19 saves in 25 opportunities, 2.63 ERA in 48 appearances

Since his debut in 2003, the same year he was drafted, Cordero's ERA ranks sixth among National League relievers. Those better: Eric Gagne (1.75), Billy Wagner (1.87), Mike Gonzalez (2.29), Trevor Hoffman (2.34), Jason Isringhausen (2.59). That's pretty good company. Yes, he's prone to the home run ball. Over that same period, his average of 1.15 HR/9 innings is 19th- highest among N.L. relievers.

He's making $4.15 million this year and is not a free agent until after the 2009 season, and is eligible for arbitration this season. There is some discussion as to how his fly-ball tendencies will play in the new park.

Jon Rauch:
Career stats - 17-13, 5 of 11 save opportunities, 3.80 ERA in 172 appearances
2007 stats - 5-2, 3 of 6 save opportunities, 3.76 ERA in league-high 53 appearances

The best thing about Rauch is that he's around the strike zone. He went through a funk earlier this year in which he walked guys in three consecutive appearances, but he has walked only one batter in his last 10 appearances. The league is hitting .218 against him, and he's cut down his propensity to serve up homers (four this year, allowed 13 last season).

Rauch is exactly the kind of player who could beef up another team's bullpen, and Detroit is clearly in the market for relief help. But he also is a reasonably priced guy at $455,000 this year, though he's eligible for arbitration for the first time this offseason.

Ryan Church:
Career stats - .267/.345/.445, 27 homers, 122 RBI in 295 games/844 at-bats
2007 stats - .262/.342/.420, 7 HR, 39 RBI in 92 games/317 at-bats

Since the Nationals arrived in Washington, it seems to me that Church has engendered the most debate among hard-core fans. Is he an everyday starter, or is he a bench guy? Can he produce long-term? If he's on the bench, would he be an effective pinch hitter (he's .186 as a pinch hitter in his career)?

So continue the debate. And keep the t-shirt ideas coming. I'm going to do a poll later in the week, I promise.

Also, I'm leaving the team on Saturday - prior to the day-night doubleheader at Shea Stadium - to scoot up to Cooperstown for the Hall of Fame induction on Sunday. Anybody going? (Dave Sheinin's stuck covering Bonds, which puts me in place for Cooperstown and Adam Kilgore monitoring the Nats on Saturday and Sunday.) Anybody been to an induction before? Should be fun.

I'll check in with lineups from Citizens Bank Park later on. Enjoy the day.


By Barry Svrluga  |  July 24, 2007; 10:55 AM ET
 
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Next: Dmitri back in the lineup, and a little Frank

Comments

I was actually lucky enough to be at the induction of Nolan Ryan, Robin Yount, and George Brett. It was absolutely amazing... You are in for a real treat.

Posted by: natsinthevalley | July 24, 2007 11:16 AM | Report abuse

Leaving Thursday after work for Induction Weekend in Cooperstown; anybody got any ideas of a place for a Nationals Journal meeting?

Posted by: Section 502 (Goin' To The Hall O'Fame!) | July 24, 2007 11:22 AM | Report abuse

My take is that good bullpens are not easy to build. We have young effective pitchers who keep the payroll down, get people out and are good citizens. They are pieces to the puzzle. KEEP Rauch and Cordero.

Church whined in 2005-06 that he wasn't given a chance to play every day. That was why his production was just OK, he said. Well.... look at his numbers this year. He's been in there all the time and his numbers have gone down, not up. He has too long a swing. He waves at too many breaking pitches in the dirt because he has to start his swing too soon to compensate for its length. He's the kind of guy who will always complain about sitting. He has no future as a pinch hitter or fourth outfielder. Contrast his attitude about playing time to Ronnie Belliard's for instance. Trade him now.

Sorry, Barry. I've never been to an induction. I envy you though. One question I have for you. I debate this constantly with my Oriole friends. Would Cal be a Hall of Fame inductee without the streak? I say no. I think his career was one notch below Hall of Fame caliber otherwise.

Posted by: #4 | July 24, 2007 11:24 AM | Report abuse

The Belliard deal is good news indeed, not only because I'm happy to see him stay but because it indicates Bowden gets that good teams are always a mix of veterans and younger guys.

Posted by: Salty Dog | July 24, 2007 11:27 AM | Report abuse

Just some more breathless praise for St. Barry.

"Again, such discussions are, at one level, pointless if you don't know what the club would get in return. But I'd be interested in your thoughts about whether you think these guys will be valuable pieces in 2008-2009 and beyond."

You know what Barry, I really do believe you that you are interested in our thoughts. That's why you're so good.

Posted by: Section 506 (After moving) | July 24, 2007 11:29 AM | Report abuse

I would agree with all #4's comments about Church -- Seems like he's always offering an excuse rather than stepping up when he gets an opportunity. His doubles numbers are impressive, but am I the only one who thinks they seem to come largely at irrelevant times (e.g., down 8-2 in the 9th inning or up 6-2 in the eighth).

I'm curious what any other team would offer for him, though. I can't imagine he's fetching serious prospects at the plate or on the mound, but I don't think he's a keeper despite a small vocal cheering group.

Posted by: ShawNatsFan | July 24, 2007 11:32 AM | Report abuse

The picture on WaPo's Nats Index (i.e., to the right of your Belliard article) is of Guzman -- and not Belliard (as its caption suggests).

Posted by: WDC | July 24, 2007 11:36 AM | Report abuse

Church will never star here -- but in Boston, he would quickly become one. Perfect swing for Fenway and he walks enough to keep Bill James and Theo happy. I think he could have 5 very, very good years there. He even reminds me somewhat of Fred Lynn when he's hitting well.

But what would the Red Sox give in return? Probably a Class A "prospect" at best.

Posted by: swanni | July 24, 2007 11:43 AM | Report abuse

"The picture on WaPo's Nats Index (i.e., to the right of your Belliard article) is of Guzman -- and not Belliard (as its caption suggests)."

More evidence that the Post Sports Department is not tuned into the Nats.

Posted by: swanni | July 24, 2007 11:45 AM | Report abuse

it'd be one thing if church had a little power (which he doesn't) or if he was consistant at the plate (which he isn't.) but he's disapointed us time and time again... trade him, see what you get... maybe we'll get a hidden gem like a lannan for him.

also congrats barry for the hall of fame induction... how'd you manage to get that over bonds?

Posted by: highboom | July 24, 2007 11:47 AM | Report abuse

it'd be one thing if church had a little power (which he doesn't) or if he was consistant at the plate (which he isn't.) but he's disapointed us time and time again... trade him, see what you get... maybe we'll get a hidden gem like a lannan for him.

also congrats barry for the hall of fame induction... how'd you manage to get that over bonds?

Posted by: highboom | July 24, 2007 11:47 AM | Report abuse

Yes, I've been to an induction. I was a TV reporter in Philly in the mid-1970s when Robin Roberts was inducted. The greatest names in the game were all sitting on the porch of the Otesaga Hotel in Cooperstown the night before. It was awesome. Enjoy, Barry!

I vote we keep Chad and Rauch. When they're good, they're very good. When they're bad, we lose. But building a bullpen seems hard to do and I think we have the right pieces. Might be an interesting experiment to switch roles for a few weeks, Chad do set-up and Rauch close.

Church seems somewhat disengaged to me. Sometimes I look at him and see a young Fred Lynn. Other times I see a guy coasting along. Not sure we'd get much for him. But you have to ask yourself, if we get a couple of studs for the outfield, will he accept a bench role here or become a clubhouse problem?

Posted by: Vandy | July 24, 2007 11:48 AM | Report abuse

Would not miss Cal's induction. In a world of fakes, bums and whiners, he just seems genuine. I'm not sure Ruth would have made it without all the home runs, or Cy Young without all the wins. He was good some years, great in a few, showed up ready play EVERY DAY.

Posted by: Section 314 | July 24, 2007 11:55 AM | Report abuse

Church appears to be a good guy and a solid outfielder who would be even better playing 110 games instead of 150. His most productive streaks have come after he has been injurred or in the minors or at the start of the season. I'd like to keep him in that role, but if you can get more value by trading him - like a potential starter for 2009 - then trade him.

Cordero really should be a hot commodity right now. He's pitching well. The Dodgers should consider him if Saito is really injurred. And the Tigers would really benefit from his talents down the stretch. Again, it comes down to value.

I'd be inclined to keep Rauch - especially if you trade Cordero - because I think his value is still on the rise. If he became a successful closer, his value next year would be much much higher.

Another name to consider (but not be over-eager to trade) is Ray King. I know he is not tearing it up right now, but he is that highly desireable commodity - a lefty out of the bullpen.

Posted by: NatBisquit | July 24, 2007 11:59 AM | Report abuse

#4 - I believe Cal is a Hall of Fame inductee without "The Streak." He changed how the position was played while putting up power numbers that no SS previously had come close to producing. You must also consider his 19 All-Star Appearances, 2 AL MVP Awards (as well as 1982 ROY), his two gold gloves and 8 silver slugger awards.

Posted by: mjwies11, Section 420 | July 24, 2007 12:00 PM | Report abuse

"More evidence that the Post Sports Department is not tuned into the Nats."

Glad you're feeling better, swanni.

"I'm not sure Ruth would have made it without all the home runs, or Cy Young without all the wins."

You're right 314. Nor would Nolan Ryan without all the strikeouts, Hank Aaron without all the great hits and home runs, and on and on. Those are all things that distinguished those players as exceptional and worth being in the Hall of Fame.

Cal showing up to work every day for several years over a decade and being good enough to play in all those games is exceptional and has to do with how he played the game. That's worth being in the Hall of Fame too.

Another tidbit from "Beyond the Shadow of the Senators", speaking of the Babe: did you know there was a pretty big suspicion that Ruth was black? Black fans (like the ones in the right field pavilion at Griffith Stadium) adored him for it and quite a few white fans, players, and sportswriters hated him because of it. He commonly was bombarded with racial slurs.

Posted by: Section 506 (After moving) | July 24, 2007 12:03 PM | Report abuse

been to cooperstown many times, but never for an induction. what a great experience!

and

Nationals Journal: Play Blog!

Posted by: gretchen | July 24, 2007 12:04 PM | Report abuse

I'm a lurker posting for the first time. I was a Nats fan as a kid and went to many games at then DC Stadium in the early 60's. Live in Raleigh NC now so don't get to many games: one in 2005, one last weekend (the loss to Colorado). I also love to play Scrabble, so on to the t-shirt idea:

SVRLUGA (written as Scrabble letters)

The pieces come together at Barry Svrluga's Nationals Journal

(followed by web address)

Posted by: raleighsteve | July 24, 2007 12:05 PM | Report abuse

I would hate to see Cordero or Rauch leave as they anchor what has become a fairly decent bullpen. Until this team gets its starting piching situation sorted out, they need quality bullpen arms to compete. Don't trade them unless the price is VERY nice.

As for Church, he seems to have topped out as a talent. I could go either way on Dmitri.

Posted by: bdrube | July 24, 2007 12:07 PM | Report abuse

I'd vote to keep Chief and Rauch and trade Church (for the right pieces), for reasons stated by others.

I've never been to Cooperstown but it's on my to-see list. I'm glad to know that the Post will be covering it. I was concerned that with Sheinin on the (other) Barry Watch, the Hall of Fame would be ignored. That would be awful, IMO. Will look forward to reading your coverage of the inductions.

Posted by: natsfan1a | July 24, 2007 12:08 PM | Report abuse

"If [Young]'s going to be traded, he has to play the rest of the week."

Why exactly? Just to prove that he's healthy?

My desk-chair GM'ing on:

Cordero: Closers can be grown from seeds on the farm with a little water and sunlight. Certainly something to include in a deal for solid starting pitching or big bat power.

Rauch: An important part of our bullpen. And hey, he doesn't walk a lot of guys. He would be hard to let go of, especially if Cordero were gone too.

Church: He is one of several capable 4th outfielders. Trade him and Larry Broadway for a big bat or solid arm .. preferably to someone in the AL on the West Coast so we don't have to be constantly reminded about what we are missing.

Importantly, all three of these guys have sentimental value. Rauch for being the tallest pitcher, Cordero for lighting up the '05 season with an outstanding debut year, and Church for getting hits on Sundays.

Next year's team will be Acta, Zim, and the rest we'll find out in March.

Posted by: i hate walks | July 24, 2007 12:08 PM | Report abuse

I'm very jealous of natsinthevalley. Brett is my all-time favorite player and I didn't get a chance to go see him inducted.

Church won't bring us anything good. I thought Belliard was our best chance to get something good, but Meat still provides hope. I just don't see the need for him with Johnson around and we can't keep both. And getting only one pick for him seems like not enough. I'm thinking Rausch will be our most valuable peice to move before the deadline. Everyone can agree on his role and his worth and as BArry pointed out, Detroit would be a perfect fit. Cordero completely comes down to who we'd get, even moreso than the other guys.

Posted by: .390 | July 24, 2007 12:10 PM | Report abuse

If we're doing the "S-V-R-L-U-G-A" with Scrabble letters on one of those little trays, the line below has to be simply:

"Too bad proper nouns aren't allowed"

Posted by: Section 506 (After moving) | July 24, 2007 12:14 PM | Report abuse

PSA: Sheinin live, now

Posted by: Section 506 (After moving) | July 24, 2007 12:18 PM | Report abuse

Just got a call from the Nats about that Guzman picture. Man, that's embarrassing. I have alerted the folks across the river who run the Web site, so hopefully they'll fix it pronto.

Posted by: Barry Svrluga | July 24, 2007 12:19 PM | Report abuse

By the way, has anyone read in the Post about the battle between the Nats and the DC Sports and Entertainment Commission over stadium funding? The Nats supposedly have promised $50 million in funding, but have ponied up only $9M.

Oh, that's right. The Post hasn't written that story. The Post doesn't write stories that might make the Lerners look bad.

Posted by: swanni | July 24, 2007 12:28 PM | Report abuse

For more on who to trade and who not to trade ...

http://www.natsfanatics.com/index.php?option=com_content&task=view&id=157&Itemid=38

Posted by: NatsFanatics.com | July 24, 2007 12:31 PM | Report abuse

By the way, Mr. S, I forgot to ask: How are you getting from NYC to Cooperstown?

If it's by car and you've got a parking space in a press lot for the Induction Ceremony, would you mind stopping in Oneonta and picking us up? (I'll bring beer!)

--- --- --- ---

Also, I'm leaving the team on Saturday - prior to the day-night doubleheader at Shea Stadium - to scoot up to Cooperstown for the Hall of Fame induction on Sunday. Anybody going?

By Barry Svrluga | July 24, 2007; 10:55 AM ET

Posted by: Section 502 (sticking out a thumb) | July 24, 2007 12:36 PM | Report abuse

Ryan Church is the next Jay Gibbons. Not exactly a huge endorsement.

As far as trading Cordero or Rauch, it depends on who you can get. I'd be just as happy holding onto them though.

And as far as Ripken's HOF bona fides outside of the streak? How many members of the 3000-hit club are not in the Hall? How many 19-time all-stars are not in the Hall?

C'mon

Posted by: big A | July 24, 2007 12:43 PM | Report abuse

Ryan Church never had the benefit of that "Vitamin B-12" special offer in the Orioles locker room.

Posted by: swanni | July 24, 2007 12:47 PM | Report abuse

Trade Cordero now! Just like Dunn's elevated numbers in Lame American Ball Park, Cordero's numbers will definitely suffer in the new ballpark. Cordero's numbers have enjoyed the depth of RFK for too long.
Rauch: keep him.
Church: dump him, he's a remnant of the Nats depleted farm system of the past, like Broadway and Casto. He has never displayed a great work ethic and it shows.
DaMeat: Trade him. Love him, but trade him.

Posted by: G-town | July 24, 2007 12:54 PM | Report abuse

"PLAY BLOG!"

I LOVE it! That seems best as a back of t-shirt lettering, with the url underneath it!

Brilliant! Some of the other ideas were great too! I like the scrabble letters for SVRLUGA idea, but that might have copyright ramifications.

Maybe for the front, something like the "don't get enough Nats in your paper?" and then the "PLAY BLOG!" on the back.

Oh, swanni, we can make the front of yours say a special "Think there's a conspiracy at 15th and L street to keep any bad news about the Nats/Lerner out of the paper and instead take up space writing about those #%&! AngelO's up north?"

Posted by: ShawNatsFan | July 24, 2007 12:55 PM | Report abuse

Keep The Chief and Big John! Period. Both are at the core of the bullpen. We've already been dismantled by MLB. Now it's time to build and those two are a pretty good start. I think they will only get better with time not to mention long term $tability.

"Da Meat" - A short term lease to another team wouldn't be so bad. How about back to the Tigers for the stretch so that he could possibly get in on what he missed last year? If JimBow makes it clear that he's wanted back here next year, at a fair price, I think that DY would be very, very appreciative.

Nick is too injury prone and Broadway, quite simply, isn't getting it done. If we can re-sign Young, at least that buys a bit of time for someone else down on the farm to develop. If Nick can make it back, that would be gravy to me at this point.

Church? - As an original season ticket holder, I've seen him since day 1. He epitomizes what MLB did to our team. Not good enough that anyone else really wants him but evidently far better than anyone else we have in the current pipeline. At times he really does seem to be going through the motions. Granted, it's a long season and it is hot as *&^% out there but c'mon! I agree that a lot of his slugging is irrelevant.

Another T-shirt entry..."Got BS?"
(nats journal underneath)

How about a Nats Journal Tailgate?

Posted by: FRANK 20 | July 24, 2007 12:58 PM | Report abuse

You know, it's hard to say regarding those three guys. I think all three would be valuable, especially Chad and Jon. Church I think, despite the actual numbers (numbers don't lie though, do they?) is improving. I don't think he would make a good pinch hitter, but he would probably do OK in a platoon. We haven't heard the same grumblings this season as last about his play, but perhaps there are just too many other things to grumble about. There are other teams out there where he could be a starter.

Posted by: Patty | July 24, 2007 1:03 PM | Report abuse

Frank 20, we're planning a get-together for the 9/23 game. One suggestion was to tailgate. Are you on board? The more, the merrier!

p.s. I like the moniker (assuming it's an F-Robby tribute?)

Posted by: natsfan1a | July 24, 2007 1:11 PM | Report abuse

The picture on the web site is now actually of Ronnie Belliard. Whew.

Cooperstown travel: Yes, driving on Saturday from Manhattan. Will I go through Oneonta?

Posted by: Barry Svrluga | July 24, 2007 1:15 PM | Report abuse

Since I brought up the Ripken/HOF subject, let me make an abbreviated argument why he may not be a HOF without the streak. Before I start, let me emphasize that I think Cal is clearly a HOF because of the streak and his work ethic. His love of the game and all the goodwill he brought to it is deserving of a plaque in Cooperstown. I am questioning whether his performance alone would be worthy. Arguments against are as follows:

1. Cal played for 21 years. He hit over .300 only 5 times - one of those in a strike shortened season and the other in a more part time role at the end of his career.
2. In 21 years he hit .270 or below 12 times. In his prime from age 26 to 34, his batting averages were: .252, .264, .257, .250, .323, .251, .257, .315, .262. That's a lot of mediocre seasons.
3. In 21 years he drove 100 runs only four times.
4. He hit 30 HR's once.
5. He's remembered for 3 great years: ROY in '82, MVP in '83, and MVP in '91, but he finished in the top ten in MVP voting only 3 times.
6. It could be argued that one should reduce his career and season statistics by 5-8% for comparison purposes because he had so many more ABs than the people you are comparing him to. He may not have made it to 3000 hits as a result.
7. Redefining the position? Setting aside the idea that he was really a 3B playing SS, how about Ernie Banks? How about Robin Yount?

Fire away. I can take it. In fact I kind of enjoy it.

Posted by: #4 | July 24, 2007 1:27 PM | Report abuse

The Nats shouldn't consider trading Cordero for anything less than an exceptional offer. He's only 25 and could the a large part of this teams bullpen for a number of years. If Bowden deals Cordero, he better get the moon in the return for our proven closer.

I think the person most likely to be dealt is Big Jon Rauch. Teams looking to make a playoff run are much more likely to need bullpen help than a 1st base/DH type(meathook) or a 4th OF(Church).

Steal of the year: If we could get rid of church for anything valuable. I've lost faith in Church over the year, which is hard because I was always high on him. Nats have a number of players that can step in and perform similarly (nook, langerhans, escobar, watson).

Posted by: 1938FratStreet | July 24, 2007 1:49 PM | Report abuse

My T-shirt idea: "I pray for Jesus's buttocks and his family. But when not in church, you'll find me lurking on NATIONALS JOURNAL."

Posted by: Section 419 | July 24, 2007 1:49 PM | Report abuse

#4, given your recap of Cal's career stats, it seems like Ryan Zimmerman might indeed be the second coming of Cal after all.

Posted by: Section 419 | July 24, 2007 1:56 PM | Report abuse

Barry,

From NYC, it looks like about a four hour drive; I-87 north to Albany, then I-88 west to Rt. 28 north to Cooperstown.

And judging from a piece posted yesterday on mlb.com you're likely to be spending Saturday night in Albany.

"Around 800 credentials are expected to be issued and members of the media have been told that there are virtually no available hotel rooms in a wide swath of upstate New York from Albany west to Syracuse. The media hotel for members of the BBWAA is in Albany, the state's capital, some 90 minutes east of this tiny hamlet where, legend has it, Abner Doubleday invented what has long been anointed the national pastime."

Alas, Oneonta is about an extra ten miles west of the Rt. 28 interchange on I-88 so I'll find another way to get to the party instead of brazenly trying to hitch a ride.

But would it be possible to stop by the press area on Sunday with my copy of your book to ask for an autograph or will you be too busy committing journalism?

Posted by: Section 502 (with a map) | July 24, 2007 1:56 PM | Report abuse

1938FratStreet confesses: "I've lost faith in Church over the year"

Have at it, punsters. Extra points for *cleverly* working in last year's Brouhaha about his Jewish girlfriend.

I have been mum on this, but if anyone is keeping score, I'm definitely in for a tailgate on 9/23.

Posted by: Section 506 (After moving) | July 24, 2007 2:03 PM | Report abuse

Ryan and his Jewish girlfriend must have gone to the "church" -- they're married now. I assume they did it in the church. According to Ryan, he would burn more than an August day in DC if he did it anywhere else.

Posted by: swanni | July 24, 2007 2:09 PM | Report abuse

Ryan's wife is cute -- looks a little like Jennifer Aniston -- but not as cute as the "slim brunette" from the Nats Pack.

Posted by: swanni | July 24, 2007 2:11 PM | Report abuse

Anybody here ever check other team's blogs for things like "Man, what we need is somebody like that Church guy in DC!" I'm guessing you won't find it. But I was in Phoenix recently and boy, could the Padres ever use Dmitri Young.

Posted by: CevansJr | July 24, 2007 2:15 PM | Report abuse

and if Church signed elsewhere, Bowden would trade Rauch for him.

Posted by: Cevans | July 24, 2007 2:20 PM | Report abuse

Keep Rauch. We'd likely get awesome goods for Cordero and Rauch is a steady eddy with a closer's potential.
Not sure how I feel about Church. I waffle a lot. I was one of his defenders last year and thought he got a bum rap. But he's had all the playing time he could ask for and he's still not very sparkly. I think he's a good player and even more important, he's really cute. He's not dominating like I thought he would, but he's had a couple exciting plays, i.e., called safe hustling out a throw to first recently and if you ask me a double is a double. Not his fault they don't bring him in.
Anyway, I'd like to see Church stay and do well, but we'd be okay without him. And like others have mentioned, I'm not sure we'd get much for him.

Posted by: NatsNut | July 24, 2007 2:21 PM | Report abuse

What about trading Ayala? Good fit for a contender, doesn't rob us of someone we'll need/regret facing in five years. Both Chad and Jon are probably a few years from their primes.

Posted by: Section 506 (After moving) | July 24, 2007 2:30 PM | Report abuse

I've always been in the pro-Church camp. I think that while his numbers are down this year, we should be looking at the team as a whole in comparison. Church's batting average is sitting 3rd on the team (even if it is only .262), only Hook and Belliard are ahead of him. He leads the team in 2Bs, is 3rd in On Base Percentage, 3rd in Total Bases, and 4th in Slugging. All great numbers I think, even when compared with the rest of this Nats lineup.

As for all this talk of attitude, yes it has been terrible in the past but this season has marked a dramatic improvement. The few games he has missed were not his decision, he is on the record saying that he could've played (something the old Church wouldn't have done).

On the lines of Rauch and Cordero. I think if we can get the right package for Cordero then we should trade him, although he has been nothing but great for us. I believe, however, that Rauch is a key member of this bullpen that has kept us well above our projected win-loss record. He has also already proven his effectiveness as a closer when Cordero was on bereavement leave.

all IMHO of course...

Posted by: natsinthevalley | July 24, 2007 2:34 PM | Report abuse

It will be a difficult week for JimBow. I don't doubt that he will have offers for Rauch and Cordero but the question will be are they enough? I like his strategy of demanding a premium price for both of them. They are both quality major league pitchers.

Cordero gives me heart attacks almost every appearance - but, in fairness to him, I think he has had to deal with even more pressure than most closers have to deal with simply because our offensive is so slight and our wins are so precious. When Rivera takes the mound in the ninth - he knows (in the back of his head at least) that if he makes a mistake he might still have a Jeter, Damon, or Rodriguez to pick him up. Let's face it folks, if Chief blows a save our odds of bouncing back offensively in the botton of the ninth or extra innings are not as good. I'm certainly not taking anything away from Mannuel Rivera - but we have all put a lot on Chief's shoulders for the past three years. And my sense is (without any empirical evidence to back it up) that the preponderance of our victories have been within the margin of "save opportunities." Hail to the Chief - if he gets traded then he should be traded as a top closer. If he played for the Mets, Philadelphia, or Atlanta it wouldn't even be an issue - the national media would consider him a premier closer.

I see Rauch as the most likely to move. He can help a lot of clubs out and the Stan Kasten Braves were never shy about considering relief pitchers as interchangeable parts. Easy come, easy go. But his performance demands a top prospect in return. And I'd be very pleased to see him stay.

As for Church, I think a change of scenery would do him good but, I just don't see any demand for him right now. GM's in play-off races know very well that they only thing worse than not making a deal is making a bad deal. Someone else is going to have to move for Church to move; it will be an ". . . and Ryan Church were traded for" deal. But those can be made in the offseason just as well.

Let's face it gang - because of the off-season payroll cuts that initiated "The Plan," we have nothing forcing us into making a deal this week. We can keep Rauch and Cordero and still sign a free agent centerfielder (and/or A-ROd) in the off season.And someone else will have to deal with the ramifications of not making the play-offs because they didn't want to pay a fair price for a Cordero or Rauch. The days of the "Expos Exodus" are over. Hats-off to Stan and JimBow - here's hoping they have a good week.

Posted by: lowcountrynatsfan | July 24, 2007 2:38 PM | Report abuse

I like Ayala and wouldn't trade him. More to the point though, given Bowden sketchy trading track record on pitchers' health (Majewski and Livan), I doubt anyone would touch Ayala until he has shown he can last more than a month.

Posted by: #4 | July 24, 2007 2:38 PM | Report abuse

Section 502: Alas, because I'm filling in for Sheinin, my accomodations are all set. Boz, photographer Jonathan Newton and I will be in a rented house in Cooperstown. Should make things a bit easier.

Posted by: Barry Svrluga | July 24, 2007 2:39 PM | Report abuse

Barry,

Sounds like a good setup. Start your podcast recorder rolling when the conversation turns to baseball and you'll have material for the rest of the season.

--- --- --- ---

Section 502: Alas, because I'm filling in for Sheinin, my accomodations are all set. Boz, photographer Jonathan Newton and I will be in a rented house in Cooperstown. Should make things a bit easier.

Posted by: Barry Svrluga | July 24, 2007 02:39 PM

Posted by: Section 502 | July 24, 2007 2:53 PM | Report abuse

#4 - Good point about Majewski...Bowden really made out like a bandit on that trade.

Say what you will about Kearns and Felipe not lving up to expectations this year, but we came out way on top of that trade.

Posted by: 1938FratStreet | July 24, 2007 2:55 PM | Report abuse

Talking of prospects worth a look, Radhames Liz is starting tonight at home for the Baysox. Guess where I'll be.

Posted by: Hendo | July 24, 2007 3:02 PM | Report abuse

If the price is right, anybody can be traded. However, the obsession over Church as a "must trade" player seems misguided.

Several times this season I have downloaded the Baseball Prospectus positional VORP ratings, and sorted outfielders together to determine where Church would fit in offensively in various team's lineups. If Church is a 4th outfielder, then I'm going to find that on most teams that's where I'd rank him vs. their current outfielders, right?

No, that's not what I found.

Although he has been declining slowly over the season, he still would rank on average as a low #2 outfielder(ie the 2nd most productive outfielder on the team, offensively). He's be the #1 on a handful of teams (like the Nats), #2 on a great many teams, #3 on some, and #4 on only a couple of teams.

If you make him a #4 on any of the rest of the teams, you will have to promote an inferior offensive player to replace him, which makes little sense.

So unidentified "scouts" have concluded that Church is a 4th outfielder. I have no way of knowing if these scouts are the same ones who were the source of Buster Olney's prediction that the Nats would lose 130 games, but there are similarities in logic.

Using its evaluation of Church and other Nationals players before the season began, Baseball Prospectus projected that the Nationals would finish 66 - 96. They are currently on track to finish 69 - 93. Personally, I place far more credibility in the objective evaluation of Baseball Prospectus in computing offensive contributions of players to their teams, than to un-named scouts who have made clear their contempt for things they don't understand. So which is it, is Church a low #2 outfielder, or a #4? Are the Nats going to be closer to 96 losses or 130? Which evaluation is more credible?

Posted by: tomterp | July 24, 2007 3:04 PM | Report abuse

There was a comment earlier to the effect that Church often fails to deliver timely or meaningful hits. I generally just look at a batter's performance overall as compared to RISP (Runners in Scoring Position) to determine if he's clutch, or choking. You want somebody who was a choker, Soriano is your guy. How's Church doing this year?

overall - .262/.342/.420
RISP - .279/.370/.442

So he's slightly better with RISP, which does not support the contention that he doesn't perform when it counts.

Posted by: tomterp | July 24, 2007 3:30 PM | Report abuse

Hey gang, we're in the new post.

Posted by: Section 506 (After moving) | July 24, 2007 3:32 PM | Report abuse

A good strong argument for Church tomterp (and empricically based!) - but how many of the teams on which he would be a #1 or #2 outfielder are in play-off contention right now? That seems to be the central question for this week at least.

The off-season will be a whole other issue - especially when you factor in the free-agent market. Then teams may need to fill gaps and Church might be much more attractive. But right now, where is the demand for him coming from?

Posted by: lowcountrynatsfan | July 24, 2007 3:35 PM | Report abuse

That's great, Sect. 506! I've been keeping track and I think we have about a dozen people so far (but probably more with spouses, significant others, kids, or whatever).

---

I have been mum on this, but if anyone is keeping score, I'm definitely in for a tailgate on 9/23.

Posted by: natsfan1a | July 24, 2007 4:00 PM | Report abuse

Hi, tomterp, good to "see" you here!

Posted by: natsfan1a | July 24, 2007 4:01 PM | Report abuse

lowcountrynatsfan says -
"how many of the teams on which he would be a #1 or #2 outfielder are in play-off contention right now? That seems to be the central question for this week at least. "

That's a good question. Rather than slot Church in to see where he'd fit in every team, how about select the top 15 teams or some subset of "contenders" and see if he's a player that would make their starting lineups. I love to do that kind of thing, but it's a little time consuming and I'm having a busy week, but I'll try to get it by next weekend.

lowcountry huh? Sand gnats or riverdogs?

Posted by: Anonymous | July 24, 2007 4:15 PM | Report abuse


natsfan1a -"Hi, tomterp, good to "see" you here!"

Hello natsfan1a, I visit here daily though rarely post. The forum seems to have a nice witty rhythm about it, I find it entertaining but also slightly out of step. But folks who know me from the MLB board know that the surest way to get me to come running is to start the "Church is a 4th outfielder" conversation, LOL.

Posted by: tomterp | July 24, 2007 4:24 PM | Report abuse

ditto...9/23 tailgate

Posted by: SC Nats Fan | July 24, 2007 4:24 PM | Report abuse

humm, I see I can't edit my comments. Bummer, since I make frequent mistakes.

In my previous post, I meant to say I find that I am slightly out of step with the forum here, not that the forum itself is slightly out of step. It's stepping just fine.

Posted by: tomterp | July 24, 2007 4:27 PM | Report abuse

Well, tomterp, readers are in for a thoughtful, fact-based post whenever you do contribute, IMO, so I hope that you continue to get smoked out here. ;)

Posted by: natsfan1a | July 24, 2007 4:29 PM | Report abuse

Oh, I thought you meant we were marching to the beat of a different drummer here...

It would be great to have the ability to edit our posts here. I make mistakes, or have second thoughts, all the time!

Posted by: natsfan1a | July 24, 2007 4:31 PM | Report abuse

The real question of importance in the Palmetto State is "Gamecocks or Tigers?" As a Gamecock myself, I'll illustrate the rivalry by telling you that the only time I'll ever cheer for Clemson is if they're playing al Qaeda.

(And, yes, both schools have excellent baseball programs that make regular visits deep into the NCAA postseason playoffs.)

By the way, I'm using "USC" for the University of South Carolina because we were founded 75 years before those guys in California and therefore we should have "dibs" on the initials.

--- --- --- --- ---

lowcountry huh? Sand gnats or riverdogs?

Posted by: | July 24, 2007 04:15 PM

Posted by: Section 502 (graduated from USC) | July 24, 2007 4:33 PM | Report abuse

Oh, you don't have to fill me in on SC football politics, nothing I haven't heard. Despite my good upbringing, one of my brothers went bad and graduated from USC (ROTC, Marines). Another brother's wife graduated there, and MY wife is a little Tiger (not a Towson, or LSU, or blah blah blah, but a genuine Clemson one).

Her parents live in Mt. Pleasant, so we get down there up to twice a year, try to catch the River Dogs (as well as a few fish) when there.

Posted by: tomterp | July 24, 2007 4:55 PM | Report abuse

Gamecocks, of course. I grew up in Arlington but came South for the smiling faces and beautiful places.

We do get to a Riverdogs game now and then. I'm glad to hear that I'm in such fine company.

Posted by: lowcountrynatsfan | July 24, 2007 5:24 PM | Report abuse

A tweener...I live between Charleston & Savannah, but hail from Woodbridge, Va. Been to the Sandgnats, but haven't seen the Riverdogs as of yet, though do plan on doing so...sometime. Am attending the series in S.F. with Nats and will be at RFK on 9/23...hope to tailgate with ya'll there.

Posted by: SC Nats Fan | July 24, 2007 5:43 PM | Report abuse

Frank 20, we're planning a get-together for the 9/23 game. One suggestion was to tailgate. Are you on board? The more, the merrier!

p.s. I like the moniker (assuming it's an F-Robby tribute?)

Posted by: natsfan1a | July 24, 2007 01:11 PM
============
Of course it's for Mr. Robinson. I have 7, count 'em s-e-v-e-n of 'em! When they let him go the way that they did, I told Stan that as long as I'm a season ticket holder, I'll wear one to every game.

I'm in 315 nearly every night - Row 11 seats 19 & 20 - stop by.

I travel a lot so even though I get to read the journal from time to time on the road, I don't always have time to post.

See you on the 9/23 if not sooner!

Posted by: FRANK 20 | July 25, 2007 10:16 AM | Report abuse

Good for you, Frank20! See you on 9/23 if not sooner.

Posted by: natsfan1a | July 25, 2007 12:05 PM | Report abuse

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