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Bits and pieces from the road

OK, very quickly, because I've got 20 minutes before they're supposed to board American 74 with service to Washington-Dulles. (Hate flying into Dulles, by the way. That's a loooooooooooooong way back home to Capitol Hill.)

· The Chicago White Sox are 57-75 (.432). The Tampa Bay Devil Rays are 53-80 (.398). These are the only two teams that have worse records than the Nationals (58-76, .433, same as the Marlins). You might remember that exactly one week ago, after taking three of four in Houston, the Nationals were 58-70 (.453), and Tampa, the White Sox, Kansas City, Texas, Florida, Cincinnati, Houston, Pittsburgh and San Francisco all had worse records. That's quite a week.

· Uber-agent Scott Boras was in the house on Tuesday night, sitting in the front row behind the plate, a section over from Jim Bowden and his fiancée, Joy, who were visible on television for much of the series. Before the game, Stan Kasten - noted hater of agents and all they stand for - went over to Boras and appeared to be joking with him. "Building bridges," he told me later. (Not that he would say that sarcastically.) Anyway, Kasten introduced Mark Lerner to Boras, because they had never met, and Lerner had only heard the stories about Boras (and if he heard them from Kasten, they no doubt weren't favorable). Boras has one client on the Nationals, Felipe Lopez, and he has a rather prominent client on the free agent market, Andruw Jones. Would Kasten pursue Jones, his former player? I would think so, to a degree. But keep in mind the contract Jones struck with the Braves way back when was brokered by cutting Boras out of the deal, to a degree. Not sure that Kasten could convince Jones to do that again if he's going to ask him to switch cities, etc. Plus, I'm quite certain that Kasten and Boras have differing views on how Jones's sub-par 2007 will affect his next contract.

· Just ran into Dmitri Young and Lenny Harris here at LAX. They're flying home to see family in Florida for the off day, then headed up to D.C. for Friday's series against the Giants. The team's charter was due to get in around 4 a.m. or so to Dulles. That's one thing that's a hidden negative for this team. Because charters can't fly into Reagan National, the club must land at Dulles and bus back to RFK Stadium to collect their luggage, etc., which is brought in by truck. It would be infinitely easier on every road trip if they could fly to National. Not allowed. FAA regulations since 9/11.

· Passed Pedro Astacio in the Denver airport as I was rushing to my gate the other day. Bizarre. He did not waggle his arm at me. (I actually didn't know him well, unfortunately.)

· The Dodgers picked up Esteban Loaiza off waivers? Wow. Assuming that $8 million left in salary for this year and next? Wow. The good thing: Even if Loaiza hopped in his car mid-morning in Oakland, we know from past history that he could have been in L.A. by the middle of the fourth inning.

· Talked to Jamey Carroll in Colorado. His wife Kim is expecting twins next march, which is nice. He's got one more year on his two-year, $4-million deal with the Rockies, where he is fighting for playing time with Kaz Matsui at second and Troy Tulowitzki definitely entrenched at shortstop. Also talked to Ramon Ortiz briefly in Colorado. "It's crazy, man," he said. That's what he always says.

· Brian Schneider played first base on Wednesday, entering in the 12th. He appeared there one time in the waning games of last season for all of three innings. He didn't get a chance there on Wednesday, not even a grounder to the infield that he had to catch. But he does take grounders there from time to time, usually using a catcher's mitt, he said afterward, because it can help with his hands, almost like trapping a short-hop throw to the plate.

· Felipe Lopez is struggling defensively, and it's bothering him. Tuesday, as I called after him as he was leaving the clubhouse to see if he would discuss his error that played a significant role in that loss, he turned around, looked at me, shook his head and walked away. Wednesday, he answered questions from the three Nationals beat reporter, but then cut the interview short when he was asked if he was unsure of himself on defense. I ask any of you who watched all three games: Does he look sure of himself?

· Manny Acta said he would likely meet with his team on Friday before the homestand. It's time. The last time he did so was in the midst of a five-game losing streak in Pittsburgh, and they won the next day.

· Nationals' pace: 70-92. Last year's record: 71-91. I had 62-100 to start the season. So they're still ahead of pace.

· Rest of schedule: Nine games against teams with losing records (six with Florida, three with San Francisco); 19 to go against teams with winning records (Philly, the Mets and Atlanta). The next six are against losing teams, so that leaves 19 of final 22 against winning teams who are in contention for the NL East title.

Thanks for stopping by. I may chime in once from home, but keep in mind I arrive at like 5:30 a.m. and may try to get some shuteye. At the very least, I'll talk to you from RFK with some info on callups and lineups for Friday night.

By Barry Svrluga  |  August 30, 2007; 12:32 AM ET
Save & Share:  Send E-mail   Facebook   Twitter   Digg   Yahoo Buzz   StumbleUpon   Technorati   Google Buzz   Previous: "I don't believe ... what I just saw."
Next: Bonneville, Nats in negotiations -- and the future of radio


Safe travels, and GET SOME SLEEP! Enjoy your "off" day.

Thanks for all you do for us, Barry!

Posted by: ShawNatsFan | August 30, 2007 12:48 AM | Report abuse

Thanks for the awesome updates, Barry.

How come I never see any of these guys in the airport?

Posted by: Svrlugamania | August 30, 2007 1:55 AM | Report abuse

mjames and 506:

Thanks for an interesting discussion. As I was falling asleep last night, I was thinking about the guys on mjames' list and whether they have played themselves off the team. Let's begin with the starters - Lopez, Church, Logan, Kearns. I think the reason we all argue about these guys is that one can make the case that any one of them has some value. The problem is that a winning team can have one of these types in the line up, but not four. Looking at any one of their season's statistically in isolation can yield enough positive information to say, "he can help". The issue is that they are batting 1st, 2nd, 5th, and 6th, when in reality they are all 7th or 8th hitters at best.

As far as Jiminez and Fick go, neither is a quality bench player. Good teams have Belliards on their bench, not Jiminezes. While Fick is an interesting personality, about his only real value is that he can be an emergency catcher. However that only comes into play when your two starters are attractive pinch hitting options off the bench. I like Flores and Schneider as a long term platoon behind the plate, but neither will ever be a guy who hits above .250. On a good team, when they are not starting they should be the 3rd or 4th pinch hitting option at best. Having a 3rd catcher is a luxury, not a requirement, and it's more important to have someone in that spot who really can hit or play great corner defense. Fick excels at neither. There are better options than Fick that can be acquired cheaply in the off season.

Lastly, with these guys that are 25 or older, I would encourage us to stop thinking things like, if "they could just go to winter ball and work on 'X' they could really get better" Positions players are what they are at 25 most of the time. Kearns is not going to stop taking those ridiculously big swings. Church has been waving at breaking balls for three years. JimBo sent him to winter league last year to work on that specifically. It didn't help much. Some guys are just stubborn that way. As the old saying goes, "a leopard doesn't change its spots."

In summary, I think the Nats need to sign a couple of FA position players this year. Other than 3B and C, they can play any position. Whichever ones they sign, they should trade the corresponding players they already have at those positions for a couple of quality utility players. Perhaps better yet to provide a bit of roster continuity, make those guys the utility players. Simply, they need major upgrades everywhere, so let's get started.

Posted by: #4 | August 30, 2007 6:06 AM | Report abuse

My impression, FWIW, is that every one of the Nats regulars, including all of the pitchers, is bone-tired with the exception of Zimmerman, Belliard, and Young. Yet there's a month to go. I don't know why some major leaguers (or Jim Bowden's choices for major leaguers) wear down, but that seems to be the situation. The Yankees, OTOH, are cranking it up, but the O's are making like the Nats.

Not much a clubhouse meeting led by Acta can do about it, either.

Yes, Barry, your postings are great and add much to the Nationals' experience.

Posted by: JohnR (VA) | August 30, 2007 6:59 AM | Report abuse

Barry sez: "Felipe Lopez is struggling defensively, and it's bothering him."

You know, Barry, I do think it's bothering the rest of us as well. Probably even more than it bothers Felipe, alas.

JohnR (VA) sez: "My impression, FWIW, is that every one of the Nats regulars, including all of the pitchers, is bone-tired with the exception of Zimmerman, Belliard, and Young. Yet there's a month to go. I don't know why some major leaguers (or Jim Bowden's choices for major leaguers) wear down, but that seems to be the situation. The Yankees, OTOH, are cranking it up, but the O's are making like the Nats."

Well, the Yankees do have something to play for right about now, whereas the Nats and O's don't, so that might have something to do with them cranking it up. Not to mention that the Yankees batboy is probably getiing paid more than anyone on the Nationals. Those guys need to justify their existence if they want those paychecks to keep on coming.

But I would argue about your characterization of all the Nats except for those few you named being "bone-tired". Kearns and Logan seem to have stepped up their games in the last month or so. Shawn Hill is looking good, even though he's been victimized by his teammates every time he takes the mound. Wily Mo has a lean and hungry look about him whenever he takes the field. (That's a bit of poetic license there, I hope you understand. WMP hasn't been lean in quite some time, it seems, and he'll never go hungry as long as the Nats keep the buffet table stocked.)

I think there's a lot that Manny can say in a team meeting that would motivate these guys, and I have no doubt he will say it. The question is, will they hear it and will they heed it? September will tell the tale.

Posted by: Section 419 | August 30, 2007 8:03 AM | Report abuse

Scully mentioned yesterday that Flores is one of eight Nationals scheduled to play in the Arizona Fall League. Who are the other seven?

Posted by: Salty Dog | August 30, 2007 8:21 AM | Report abuse

So, your choices are red-eye non-stop to Dulles or red-eyes(plural) with connections to National?

I'll take the non-stopper every time.

Posted by: Millon deFloss | August 30, 2007 8:23 AM | Report abuse

Yeah, bummer there's no redeye LAX-DCA. (The one nonstop flight -- on Alaska -- boards at 12:45 pm and basically sucks up a whole day and evening. I fondly recall the TWA nonstop that also took all day but at least left the evening free.)

Barry, get those cheapskates at 15th and L to spring for a limo for you from Dulles next time. At least you can work in some comfort using your broadband wireless. (If 15th and L will spring for that.)

Thanks for all the updates.

Posted by: Hendo | August 30, 2007 8:47 AM | Report abuse

"(That's a bit of poetic license there, I hope you understand. WMP hasn't been lean in quite some time, it seems, and he'll never go hungry as long as the Nats keep the buffet table stocked.)"

Thanks 419, you had me laughing all the way to work and I needed it.

Couldn't agree with you more on Logan or Kearns. Here's the thing about the last three games. One hit or one stop in each of them would have made a victory. Dodgers fans can't be too happy that their contending team just barely eked out three wins and they must realize that they were one Felipe Lopez play away from losing each time.

This leads to my next point: why aren't these guys pieces of a contending team? One more bat and there would be a slew more wins. How many times have we said we just need one more hit? Heck, Peña might be that guy, too!

How is a player batting over .300 since the All-Star break (and longer, I think, right? When did he give up switch hitting?) not part of a contender? How is an outfielder with only one error and a rocket arm not part of a contender? Especially if he's re-learned how to hit? Sure Hunter or Rowand would be a nice upgrade, but the team's not going to be lost - anymore - without him. Make a try and then save your money. NO DUNN.

I've become convinced that our middle infield is what we need to be MOST worried about. You may recall Guzzie was not a champion shortstop (I remember one boot in particular). Clearly Felipe isn't and might not even be better than Ronnie at second. But, I agree with a poster yesterday who talked about the price of FA shortstops. Worse, they're closer to the end of their SS careers than the beginning. I think we need to get some middle infield prospects stat. Maybe Church for an up and coming shortstop that can take over when Guzman's contract expires?

And as for first: buy Marrero a mitt, he's not an outfielder.

Posted by: Section 506 (After moving) | August 30, 2007 9:17 AM | Report abuse

506 - No way we can upgrade at 2B or SS for Ryan Church. I love Ryan, but whatever we could get in trade would be a downgrade from the personnel we have starting now. Maybe for someone to replace Batista and/or Jimenez, but not a starter.

Guz, Belli & FLop are the guys for the next 2 years (maybe only 1 for Guz?) and then hopefully we'll have so guys coming up through the organization.

Speaking of which, I was at the P-Nats game last night and was very impressed with Justin Maxwell and Chris Marrero, both have very good power and are much better defensive outfielders than I had expected (I saw Maxwell on Monday too, but Marrero was off). Maxwell has a pretty strong arm from what I saw, and Marrero fired a laser beam to second base that would have been an easy OF assist if the runner had been dumb enough to test him.

I think we see Maxwell in the bigs soon, either as a call up as Barry has suggested or more likely a ST invite after he plays fall ball in AZI. Best guess is he starts next year in AA and is up by June...just a guess of course.

Marrerro is your starting LF by 2009 or 2010, he is only 19 after all...

Posted by: estuartj | August 30, 2007 9:31 AM | Report abuse

Good to hear Marrero is doing well in the OF and I've heard nothing but praise of Maxwell. Thanks for the report. I still believe we need a prospect at first, because Nick Johnson isn't coming back (at least not in the same form) and Meat is winding down his career (though he could have fooled... anyone).

You don't think we could trade Church to a team that needs someone now for a middle infield prospect that would be ready in two years? That's what I was thinking. There's got to be somebody out there with a log-jam at short.

Posted by: Section 506 (After moving) | August 30, 2007 9:41 AM | Report abuse

How about Ryan Church to the Giants for Emmanuel Burriss? He's a local kid - Wilson HS in NW DC - and is very athletic. He's playing SS in the South Atlantic League right now for the Augusta Green Jackets. He was sandwich pick last summer after starring at Kent State. He's a speedy lead off hitter with very little power. Think Nook with ten times the baseball instincts.

I'll admit this may be a more sentimental idea than a rational one, but I'd love to see a local kid - particulrly from a DC public school - on the team.

Posted by: #4 | August 30, 2007 9:49 AM | Report abuse

#4, maybe not so irrational. The Giants will need a fourth outfielder next year...

Posted by: Section 506 (After moving) | August 30, 2007 9:51 AM | Report abuse

I think the chances of us upgrading more than one, of not any, of our "pressing" needs via FA are not good. For CF we talk about Rowand and Hunter, but will they be worth the cost long term (especially if they want 5+ year deals)? It looks like their are no quality upgrades available to the middle infield and the starting pitcher market is probably the highest cost for lowest return for any free market in the world.

That said I don't think JimBow/Kasten will stand pat either. We'll make a fair run at Rowand/Hunter (and Dunn?), but more likely upgrades will come in trades - thus the question is, what do we have to offer and who do we think we should target.

Carl Crawford is a prime target in my mind; young, great defensive CF and can hit both for power and average - probably your prototypical #2 hitter. Think Vidro in his prime.

Will we make a move for a starting pitcher, Peavy and Santana will probably be on the block, but the price is likely out of our league.

Maybe JimBo tries to upgrade the middle infield via a trade, but which position do you go for, SS or 2B? My guess is neither, play out Guz in his contract year and if he plays like he did earlier this year (without the two DL stints of course) you either give him an extension (2yrs 10 mil sound familiar) until a home grown talent is ready (Stephen King, Ian Desmond or Smiley?) or trade him for prospects at the deadline and muddle through till '09 or so?

Time will tell, but looking at the FA market and some of JimBow and Kasten's comments I would not expect this team to EVER go out and try to "buy" a contender on the open market.

Posted by: estuartj | August 30, 2007 10:24 AM | Report abuse

"Time will tell, but looking at the FA market and some of JimBow and Kasten's comments I would not expect this team to EVER go out and try to "buy" a contender on the open market."

And praise the Lord that it is so! Raise your voices in song so that joyous noise drifts all the way north to Baltimore, the Nationals are not to be caught up in the sins of the flesh!

Posted by: Section 506 (After moving) | August 30, 2007 10:35 AM | Report abuse

506 - Speaking of our friends up North, might we be able to take that troublesome Miguel Tejada off their hands?

Could you imagine a line-up with Johnson, Zimmerman, Tejada, WMP and Adam Dunn? That's about 150 HRs right there...

Actually I don't think Angelos will ever let Tejada go, no matter what he does - and will probably never be willing to make any deal with the Nats.

Posted by: estuartj | August 30, 2007 10:41 AM | Report abuse

Just between you and me, since we seem to be the only ones here today, I'd be willing to trade several players to Angelos in exchange for TV rights back.

I'd take Tejada off Angelos's blood-stained hands (he murdered the Orioles).

Posted by: Section 506 (After moving) | August 30, 2007 10:48 AM | Report abuse

Why doesn't the team fly into BWI? It's about the same mileage (according to Google Maps), but BWI is just a straight shot down 295. I've got to imagine that would move faster compared to the Beltway.

Posted by: Shawn | August 30, 2007 10:49 AM | Report abuse

The O's could use some decent bullpen arms. How about giving up 3 or 4 of our pitchers and Felipe for Tejada?

Posted by: e | August 30, 2007 11:01 AM | Report abuse

Maybe the Lerners should make a person-to-person call to President Bush and see if arrangements can be made for their charters to fly in and out of Andrews Air Force Base. The WH press charters land their so it can't be that tough to work out...

Posted by: estuartj | August 30, 2007 11:04 AM | Report abuse

I was wondering the same thing about BWI (assuming there are available flights). I would think it's much more convenient to RFK.

So, yesterday's ouch and Friday's debacle still fresh in our minds, I just read this about the Brewers:

"Milwaukee blew a 3-1 lead in the seventh when starter Jeff Suppan and Scott Linebrink allowed four runs... It was the 14th time this season that the Brew Crew has lost after leading by three or more runs."

Anyone have an idea how many of these the Nats have had this season? It's good off-day digging...

Posted by: ShawNatsFan | August 30, 2007 11:12 AM | Report abuse

I can just see it now, this same conversation a year from now, calling for Bowden's head for getting that overpaid, washed-up Tejada.
The guy is done.

Posted by: cevans | August 30, 2007 11:43 AM | Report abuse

I wonder what the pieces are the we have, but would be willing to part with to upgrade the team. Church and Logan are certainly on the table, also Redding, Bergmann and a few other position players like Lopez and/or Belliard. We seem to have a bevy of relief pitchers so Cordero, King, Colome and Bacsik/Bowie all seem tradeable.

If we gave up all 8 of those players, could we get a Peavy or Santana? How many would we have to part with for a Carl Crawford or Miguel Tejada?

Posted by: estuartj | August 30, 2007 11:46 AM | Report abuse

estuartj is serious about upgrading the team, but I don't think our entire baseball team would yield a Peavy or Santana. And based on Levale Speigner's outing against Santana, I'm not sure they're worth it!

Posted by: Section 506 (After moving) | August 30, 2007 11:51 AM | Report abuse

Oh, and add Marlon Anderson to that list of linebacker-wannabees, although he needs to work on that tendency to arm-tackle. Well, it was more of a shove, really, but he brought the guy down.

Posted by: cevansjr | August 30, 2007 11:52 AM | Report abuse

I'm not serious about getting Tejada. Guz is The Man at SS for '08 and that will not change.

However, cevans calling him washed-up is ridiculous. Before he missed time on the DL this year he hadn't missed a game since 2000 (when he played 160 games). He is still only 31 years old and has averaged 37 HRs a year since 2000. He failed to get 100 RBIs only once (89 in '05).

I think he is frustrated and tired from spending the last 4 years in such a terrible organization that is more interested in Angelos' ego than with winning championships. He would probably be a great Change-of-Scenery pick up for whoever can peal him away from Angelos slimy (and blood stained) hands.

Posted by: estuartj | August 30, 2007 11:54 AM | Report abuse

I'll trade you 100 guys who can't play, and you don't need, for your best player. Deal? Didn't think so.

Look at it another way. What if you could pick a team out of the current DC roster, plus all the available free agents? Now, who do you want? More like poker than gin rummy.

Posted by: c jr | August 30, 2007 11:56 AM | Report abuse

Well, a little harsh, anyway. I was being pessimistic.

However, cevans calling him washed-up is ridiculous.
Posted by: estuartj | August 30, 2007 11:54 AM

Posted by: ce jr | August 30, 2007 12:04 PM | Report abuse

I will admit one thing to start off - I have been vocal in my support for upgrading at CF in the off season but have started to swing in the other direction. The guys we have out there right now aren't exactly hitting the cover off the ball but at least they're catching the darn thing. Give them a year in the new stadium and see how they shake out offensively under the new lights. It seems help in the OF could be on the way sooner from within.

You can NOT win in this game w/o being rock solid defensively up the middle. We all know that FLop has contributed to the last three losses significantly, if not been the direct cause. Errors are a part of the game. Everyone makes them. However, the Nats do not need a guy who is going to make costly errors and then mope around about it and get themselves into such a funk that they become a liability.

Zimmerman made a costly error during the most recent win streak and how did he handle it? Did he mope and pout about it? Hell no. He spoke rather candidly to the media about it whenever asked. He got out there in pre-game with his manager and took extra fielding practice and got himself right. He then proceeded to make several of the plays that draw comparison to guys like Scott Rolan and Brooks Robinson and saved the team runs if not games. He was a standup guy through out the situation and showed great maturity for a man his age. We need more guys like that. Apparently, guys made of tougher stuff than Lopez.

Like most others have said, middle infield help is in short supply in the FA market the next 2 years. Upgrades are going to come via trade/draft/minors. Tejada is a $14 million/yr guy. No way - not with his power numbers in decline the way they are - in one of the most hitter friendly ballparks in MLB mind you.

Posted by: MKevin | August 30, 2007 12:25 PM | Report abuse

I was trying to say we won't be making any blockbuster trades like it would take to get Santana and/or Peavy, but if you take all those "parts" we might be able to take a couple of them and make a package to upgrade one slot, say maybe Carl Crawfor at center?

Still, aside for a Wilky and company for Soriano type deal I wouldn't expect to see too much from a trade, same deal with FA (maybe one "splash" move, ie Dunn) and some tinkering around with bench+depth and that's it.

If you want to see where the major changes are going to come from, look to Potomac and Vermont, not other teams rosters. That is The Plan, in a nutshell.

Posted by: estuartj | August 30, 2007 12:25 PM | Report abuse

I suspect that Renteria will be an available SS in the off-season. Yunnell Escobar is showing that he can play everyday. Renteria and Belliard up the middle - and Rowand, Hunter, or Jones in CF would shore-up the middle defensively for a young pitching staff. And remember, that was the Kasten strategy in Atlanta.

Posted by: lowcountrynatsfan | August 30, 2007 12:26 PM | Report abuse

How about this for the year - and think about it for a minute before responding.

Minimal moves in the majors, maximum moves in the minors. Why should we get a free agent when the crop isn't that grand (except for one or two) and we don't have enough of a team to back them up. It's not that we stay pat in the off-season, it's that we focus on the minors and then shell out for a free agent when he will make maximum impact.

Posted by: Section 506 (After moving) | August 30, 2007 12:42 PM | Report abuse

We Nats fans have a way of looking through rose colored glasses. When I sit back and take a good look without the glasses, I really don't see why many teams would want much of what the Nats have to offer, really. I mean, if they can't play for the 3rd (record wise) team in baseball, how the he11 are they going to help a contender? I see the youth movement through the draft as the best way to get better. Sure, it'll take a while that way, but it's probably the correct route to take. JimBow might be able to plug a hole here and there thru a trade, but to come up with a quality trade with what we have to offer, come on now, really, do you think thats going to happen? I'd really be surprised if it did. This team doesn't need to panic. Build it thru the draft, and they will come (fans). Nat fans are just saving there hard earned dollars for when they have a reason to spend them. It's up to the Lerners to make the investment if they want to see a return on it. Remember, nothing ventured, nothing gained. So, come on FO, make the investment, it WILL be worth it.

Posted by: SC Nats Fan | August 30, 2007 12:46 PM | Report abuse

In above post, after 3rd, insert worst.

Posted by: SC Nats Fan | August 30, 2007 12:48 PM | Report abuse

The last two posters are 100% correct in their view of the team and approach to improving it. I especially agree with SC Nats Fan in regards to the trade value of any of our position players. With the exception of Zimmerman and potentially Kearns and WMP nobody else stands out as having enough value by themselves to trade away. A package deal will cost the Nats too much in terms of parts to replace. By that I mean trade 3 position players for 1 pitcher means you have to fill in for 3 position players from your own org (which we know we don't have) or through FA, which we know is slim picking and/or expensive.

I think most moves are going to be bench enhancements or to stockpile the minors. That's the "Plan" and I wouldn't expect the FO to deviate from it.

However, what has to happen at some point is the Nats have to begin identifying their core players at the major league level. The FO thought they'd done that in acquiring Kearns, and Lopez to add to Johnson, Zimmerman, and Schneider. I think a lot of the talk here is in questioning some of the players the FO has been speaking of as "core players".

Down years for these guys or missing years in the case of Johnson has lead to much of the debate and speculation here.

Posted by: MKevin | August 30, 2007 1:10 PM | Report abuse

Nearly agree with you SC Nats Fan, but there's a noted caveat. Sometimes a contender has a hole in their depth-chart (mixing sports, I know) and the Nats might have someone they need. For instance, the best team in baseball needed the closer of one of the worst teams in baseball. Or another example, the Salty-Texie swap between Atlanta and the Rangers. Was that the most letters ever traded?

Posted by: Section 506 (After moving) | August 30, 2007 1:16 PM | Report abuse

Much as I have grown weary of Lopez, Tejada is exactly the kind of overpaid malcontent we do NOT need. The Nats didn't purge the roster of such players after '06 just to bring one back in '08.

He the O's problem, let them live with him.

Posted by: bdrube | August 30, 2007 1:16 PM | Report abuse has begun speculating as to what the non-tenders might be this December. They list Felipe Lopez as one. I can't see that happening at all. His arbitration number shouldn't be that bad.

Posted by: O's Fan | August 30, 2007 1:25 PM | Report abuse

I love Zimm's makeup, but in Lopez' defense, we have only one side of the reports of him being short with the media the other day. It was a long game on a travel day, so time was likely at a premium. Last, I remember seeing somewhere, maybe on the WETA Nats program, that Lopez had been working with Acta on his fielding earlier in the year. We don't know that he is not doing that now. Also, don't know how it looked on tv, but going by the radio yesterday, Slowes seemed to think that Lopez was only having fielding difficulties when going to one side. Just trying to give him the benefit of the doubt.


MKevin said (in part): Zimmerman made a costly error during the most recent win streak and how did he handle it? Did he mope and pout about it? Hell no. He spoke rather candidly to the media about it whenever asked. He got out there in pre-game with his manager and took extra fielding practice and got himself right. He then proceeded to make several of the plays that draw comparison to guys like Scott Rolan and Brooks Robinson and saved the team runs if not games. He was a standup guy through out the situation and showed great maturity for a man his age. We need more guys like that. Apparently, guys made of tougher stuff than Lopez.

Posted by: natsfan1a | August 30, 2007 1:26 PM | Report abuse

actually i wouldn't mind bringing in tejada. we're gonna need two years for next year's top pick college shortstop stud (hopefully please please somebody there be worth it!) to work his way through the minors.

i'd also like to throw a bone at tampa for rocco baldelli. buy low! at worst he's another stopgap upgrade. but he has at the least much more potential than anyone else on our squad (other than zimms).

i just hope we don't make a big splash in a shallow pool this offseason. i'm still plenty patient and happy loading up the minors.

Posted by: longterm | August 30, 2007 1:45 PM | Report abuse

for those contemplating BWI over Dulles, remember that the route from dulles to DC is straight interstate (toll road to 66) until you hit constitution. and at that late hour, that stretch inside the city would be a breeze. i'm not thinking BWI is necessarily any better.

Posted by: 506 | August 30, 2007 1:49 PM | Report abuse

I got no problem with Lopez shunning the media last night. He didn't blow up and yell at everyone like a certain catcher who I love, but know was wrong to do it. He SHOULD be a bit shamed by his performance.

Now, what worries me about Lopez is that he doesn't LOSE that shame. He hangs on to it and nurses it and lets it fester into two or three more errors. Zimm doesn't even seem to recall by the next game, in comparison.

Posted by: Section 506 (After moving) | August 30, 2007 2:05 PM | Report abuse

Section 506...If we can find a contender to take Cordero for prospects, I'd do that before the trade partner woke up. I don't see the still young Cordero getting any better than he is now. Closers can be groomed from withing the organization, as it seems pitching is starting to be a strength in the farm system. Pull the trigger, don't blink, just do it.

Posted by: SC Nats Fan | August 30, 2007 2:06 PM | Report abuse

What do we think about Ayala? Is he going to get better? The Trade Chad Now! argument would seem to work for him as well, wouldn't it? And I bet we could get some good stuff for him.

Posted by: Section 506 (After moving) | August 30, 2007 2:26 PM | Report abuse

Yes, I think it would benefit Ayala to some extent. I think JimBow should have an all points bulleting to his scouting staff to be scouring the minors for middle infielders with much promise, and hopefully find a trading partner to match needs both ways. Time to depart with our hanging Chad.

Posted by: SC Nats Fan | August 30, 2007 2:34 PM | Report abuse

I contend that errors are almost always mental lapses... especially when they occur in bunches... Zimm's throwing, Lopez's errors in LA, etc., so being on the road, living in a hotel, being in a bunch of close games could take its toll.

Someone commented earlier about Lopez not being happy with Washington, and that could be... he doesn't look happy... but that is just the impression I get watching the games. Belliard, on the other hand, looks like he's having a blast...

Just something to throw out there... when they shift the infield when Bonds comes to bat... take a look at where Zimm is playing, and ask yourself if you see him playing there regularly? Just another possibility for 2009, if you could get a third baseman, instead of a second baseman (not that I think it is that great an idea... and if you did it, you better have an all-star calibre third baseman to put in his place, like David Wright...).

Posted by: Wigi | August 30, 2007 2:36 PM | Report abuse

I think all of our late inning relief guys should be on the block, especially if we can use them to build up our minor league system. With that said, it seems that guys like Ayala and Cordero bring more in return if they are traded midseason than if they are traded during the GMs meetings or something like that. Teams looking to trade midseason are more desparate and likely to give up more. So unless JimBow can get a great return for them I think they'll be in the bullpen at the beginning of next year.

Posted by: NoVA Nat | August 30, 2007 2:40 PM | Report abuse

You know what Wigi...they could sample that now by playing Batista at 3rd and moving Zimm to short, just to see how his range would be there. I know he has a quick first step and would corral anything that touches his glove. They have nothing to lose this year anyway, so why not give it a try?

Posted by: SC Nats Fan | August 30, 2007 2:53 PM | Report abuse

NoVa, I'm not sure I agree that we'll get a better deal mid-season than during the off season. IF you can pull off a trade before the deadline you might get a great deal, like Texeira (sp?) to Atlanta - but it's much tougher to work out a deal when all the pieces are moving (or playing in this case).

Teams will also be somewhat "desperate" to move high payroll players reaching the end of their contracts, thus Soriano to DC in '06.

Personally, I think Bowden is more suited to the off-season type deal when he has more time to "work over" other GMs with tons of deal or options until he can manipulate them toward the deal he wants.

I think he will look to move Church/Logan, Cordero and maybe 1 or 2 other relievers (we look to be heading toward a logjam in the bullpen for '08).

Who he'll target is anyone's guess, but I think they want another impact OF either via trade (Crawford or your suggstion?) or FA (Rowand, Dunn, Hunter, Jones, etc), but I don't see a movement to replace Guz/Lop/Belli this season. More likely they'll look to upgrade the Batista/Fick/Jimenez spots on the roster for '08 and wait for '09 or later to upgrade that area by promoting from within or via trade/FA.

Posted by: estuartj | August 30, 2007 2:55 PM | Report abuse

SC Nats Fan:

I am sure he would be fine there... the question is would what you replace him with be fine at third? I was just bringing it up because (for whatever reason) you might be able to get a third baseman when you couldn't get a shortstop. The bar is set pretty high... Zimm makes Brooks Robinson-esque plays pretty regularly... I bet he saves one or two hits a game over a middling third baseman.

I don't think I need to see Batista at third to get an idea of what Zimm would do at short. He would be better than almost any shortstop in the league, defensively.

Posted by: Wigi | August 30, 2007 3:01 PM | Report abuse

I agree with estuartj's analysis, in toto.

I would love to see Zimm try out short, but as long as Guzman still has his massive (small pond-wise) salary it will never happen. By the time Guzman is gone, we might as well have developed our own prospect for that spot.

Posted by: Section 506 (After moving) | August 30, 2007 3:03 PM | Report abuse

I agree with your assessment of the trade situation with the high dollar guys nearing the end of their contracts, but I think I automatically discounted them because I really hope we don't head in that direction.

The acquisition of minor league guys or bench players was what I was looking at. There I do think that a team is more likely to trade away tomorrow for today in the middle of a pennant race than in the off season.

I think we'll start next year with the same roughly line up and bullpen as we started this year with, give or take 2 sports. I think Crawford is the best option for CF that anybody has named, certainly better (contract-wise, not talent-wise) than the big three we normally talk about. But what do we have that Tampa Bay wants?

Posted by: NoVA Nat | August 30, 2007 3:09 PM | Report abuse

With the Giants coming to town, maybe NatsFan1a or somebody can link us to a video of Jeff Kent's slugfest with Baroid in the home dugout when they were both Giants? Anyone remember that gratifying event?

Posted by: flynnie | August 30, 2007 3:37 PM | Report abuse

I remember when the Nats were 54-31 or so Dave Sheinen said that it couldn't last becasue so many of the wins were one run games which even out over a season. And even out they did with the great July slump. Aren't the Nats 27-26 in one run games right now? Which would mean that the losses to the Dodgers were statistically inevitable, and helps us to take them philosophically.

Posted by: flynnie | August 30, 2007 3:40 PM | Report abuse

Why are we talking about Crawford? Is he a free agent? or even arbitration eligble? I did not think that he was in the mix for CF acquisitions this off-season. Lacking any financial motivation, I can't envision Tampa Bay wanting to move him.

I agree with Wigi that Zimm could move over to short but I think we have put enough on his shoulders already. Let's sign a FA in the off-season. I still believe that there will be a whole lot of shuffling this winter - and not just with the Nats.

Posted by: lowcountrynatsfan | August 30, 2007 3:59 PM | Report abuse

I was using Crawford primarily as an example of someone we would try to get, I don't know much about Tampa's needs or how their "plan" is going (not good by any messure).

If TB is unlikely to move Crawford what similair guys are out there (ie less than 28 yo, can play good defensive CF, hit for some non-hr power and have decent speed, but not cost 8 figures/yr)? That can't be a long list...

Posted by: estuartj | August 30, 2007 4:38 PM | Report abuse

I heard about this great Tampa pitcher that could also solve our middle infield needs, Josh Wilson...

Posted by: Section 506 (After moving) | August 30, 2007 4:39 PM | Report abuse

For a list of teammate feuds, which includes the 2002 "Slugout in the Dugout" between Kent and Bonds go to:
Guess who's #1? For slamming Steve Garvey into a locker?! Don Sutton!

Posted by: flynnie | August 30, 2007 4:44 PM | Report abuse

Good post #4. Some of these guys should become utility players and we sign say two FA's until we start harvesting the farm. Also in the interim take a look at our minor league system. Bowden says he has no real postions players in the system but hey you never know. look at Lannan last year. There maybe some postion players buried some place. I am not talking about retreads. Maybe Whitesel, Broadway, Powell, Casto and a few others. Look at these guys - you never know.

Posted by: Mjames | August 30, 2007 4:59 PM | Report abuse

At this point, isn't Broadway a retread?

Posted by: Section 506 (After moving) | August 30, 2007 5:08 PM | Report abuse

... and just THINK of all the great prospects we could get for Zimmerman!

Posted by: Trade 'em all, let g-d sort it out | August 30, 2007 5:09 PM | Report abuse

I think at this point any team that wants any or all of the players on our AAA and AA roster can have them. I don't think Bowden would want more than a bucket of chicken and a bus pass for any or them, or any players he didn't sign, trade or draft for.

Which brings us back to the subject of JimBow's judgement, he seems way too attached to "his" players, be they former Reds or anyone he brought in here. I wonder if the lack of "excitement" over Josh Whitesell may have more to do with JimBow's ego than Josh's abilities.

Posted by: estuartj | August 30, 2007 5:21 PM | Report abuse

Actually, since the Lerners took over, I can't come up with a criticism of Jim Bowden. Even extending that to the great Reds Swap of 2006, it's hard to argue against Lopez then. He looked like he was going to be the better part of the deal in those days and I have yet to see what we lost in that trade.

Soriano trade was a good one for the Nats (especially with the signings), Chico will be another Livo one day (you heard it here first), Pena seems to be working out alright (jury is still out), Logan must have been a better deal since I can't even remember where he came from, Meat looks suspiciously prescient now...

What would you argue against?

Posted by: Section 506 (After moving) | August 30, 2007 5:30 PM | Report abuse

Not to completely pull you off course, but I have a new post with some quasi-news, and an invitation to start a discussion that I believe will be ready by lots of people with the Nats, radio stations and MASN.

Have at it.

Posted by: Barry Svrluga | August 30, 2007 5:32 PM | Report abuse

If Bowden has sated his Reds fixation with the WMP trade and doesn't give away the store to sign or obtain Adam Dunn I will withdraw all criticism.

In fact I would agree that Kasten and Bowden make a great team. I can see Bowden going in and pitching all kinds of crazy trade ideas to Kasten who is going "Whoa, whoa, whoa - easy boy...let's think this through" and then Bowden saying, never mind that how about this, or this, or this.

Bowden seams to have childlike exuberence that works well opposite Kasten's more fatherly reserve.

Posted by: estuartj | August 30, 2007 5:45 PM | Report abuse

Hey, flynnie, sorry I missed your query until now, but you were resourceful and found your own answer. I wouldn't have had any insider info on the feud, anyway, as I haven't lived in the SFO area since the late 1980's. Also, although I still pine for the 'niners, I never did follow the Giants that closely, so the Nats have had my heart from day one.

Posted by: natsfan1a | August 31, 2007 7:11 AM | Report abuse

Forget signing a FA for CF. We have Andre Dawson coming next year. this kid Maxwell is the next Dawson.

Posted by: mjames | August 31, 2007 9:37 AM | Report abuse

for #4.

Much as I'd love to see Emmanual play for the Nats, there are serious issues with "coming home" to play. Ask Ken Griffey, Jr. Emmanual would certainly solve some problems, not the least of which is that he would make Nook Logan totally expendable. He is a truly slick fielder with unbelievable speed. Not only that, he actually knows how to run the bases.

That is one of the problems. SF has 4 players (1 now in the majors and 3 in the minors) that you could probably ship off to Beijing, give a baton to, and watch them walk off with the 4x100 relay. Once Bonds and Vizquel retire, they intend to remake their roster into a speed oriented one.

Posted by: Catcher50 | August 31, 2007 2:18 PM | Report abuse

Good site! I'll stay reading! Keep improving!

Posted by: George | November 10, 2007 7:14 AM | Report abuse

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