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Calm before the storm? (With some minor news)

A week from now, the Winter Meetings will be fully under way in Nashville, starting on Monday and concluding with the Rule 5 draft on Thursday. And the smart money would be on the Nationals to make some kind of move -- perhaps even before the meetings begin.

The names out there are the same -- Chad Cordero, Jon Rauch and Ryan Church. But the people I've spoken with today seem to seem to think it'll be a reliever.

For now, though, we have a list of 19 minor league free agents signed by the club -- with Mike Bacsik leading the way. Minor league free agency works the same way as it does in the majors: Anyone with six years of pro ball who isn't protected by his team can be a free agent, able to sign with another club. Here they are:

RHPs Steven Shell and Dennis Tankersley; catcher Humberto Cota; infielders William Bergolla, Yurendell de Caster and Antonio Perez; LHPs Bacsik, Mike Hincley and Arnie Munoz; RHPs Bobby Brownlie, Tristan Crawford and Jim Ed Warden; catcher Chad Moeller; infielders Luis Jimenez and Ed Rogers; OFs Jason Dubois, Tommy Murphy and Jorge Padilla.

This isn't my style, but I'll just paste in the very thorough bios prepared by the Nats' public relations staff.

Shell, 24, went 7-3 with a 4.73 ERA in 31 games (seven starts) with the Angels' Triple-A Salt Lake City club in 2007 after beginning his year with five appearances for Double-A Arkansas. He was the winning pitcher for Team USA against Cuba in the IBAF World Cup championship game on November 18, when he tossed three innings of one-run relief. Shell, a seven-year pro, was recommended to the Nationals by Team USA manager Davey Johnson. Shell, who stands 6-foot-5, was a third-round pick of the Angels in 2001. He pitched mainly as a reliever in 2007 after starting 126 of his 143 games in his first six seasons. He is 53-44 with a 4.47 ERA in 179 minor league games overall.

Tankersley, 28, went 10-7 with a 4.41 ERA in 24 starts with Detroit's Triple-A Toledo club in 2007, including a 4-2 mark and a 3.09 ERA (20 ER/58.1 IP) in nine starts after the All-Star break. The nine-year pro appeared in 27 big league games (16 starts) with San Diego from 2002-04, going 1-10 with a 7.61 ERA. He is 65-61 with a 3.67 ERA in 213 minor league contests (197 starts).

Cota, 28, appeared in 196 big league games with Pittsburgh from 2001-07, batting .233 with 12 homers and 61 RBI. The Mexico native played in five games in a pair of stints with the Pirates in 2007, going 4-for-14 (.286) with three RBI. He spent most of the year with Triple-A Indianapolis, where he hit .284 with nine RBI in 30 games.

Bergolla, 24, hit .306 with 22 doubles, seven homers and 37 RBI in 99 games with San Francisco 's Triple-A Fresno squad in 2007. He appeared in 17 games with Cincinnati in 2004 for his lone big league experience, batting .132 with an RBI. In eight minor league seasons, the Venezuela native is hitting .289 with 144 doubles, 27 homers and 253 RBI.

de Caster, 28, batted .280 with 25 doubles, nine homers and 54 RBI in 120 games with Pittsburgh 's Triple-A Indianapolis team in 2007. His lone big league experience came in 2006, when he had just two at-bats in three games with Pittsburgh . The Curacao native is hitting .260 with 201 doubles, 113 homers and 485 RBI in 963 minor league games. de Caster played for Team Netherlands in the 2006 World Baseball Classic.

Perez, 27, batted .218 with two homers and nine RBI in 26 games with Oakland 's Triple-A Sacramento team in 2007 before a sprained right knee ended his season in May. The Dominican native has appeared in 216 big league games with Tampa Bay (2003), Los Angeles-NL (2004-05) and Oakland (2006), batting .244 with six homers and 43 RBI overall. He played in a career-high 98 games with the Dodgers in 2005, batting .297 with 13 doubles, three homers and 23 RBI.

Bacsik went 5-8 with a 5.11 ERA in 29 games (20 starts) with Washington in 2007. He ranked third on the club with 20 starts and 118.0 innings pitched. The Dallas native surrendered Barry Bonds' record-breaking 756th career home run August 7 at San Francisco 's AT&T Park . Bacsik is 10-13 with a 5.46 ERA in 51 career games (35 starts) with Cleveland (2001), New York-NL (2002-03), Texas (2004) and Washington (2007).

Brownlie, 27, went 1-2 with a 3.17 ERA in nine games (eight starts) with Cleveland 's Double-A Akron club in 2007 after pitching for Newark of the independent Atlantic League for the first four months of the season. He went 8-4 with a 3.41 ERA in 14 starts with Newark , and was the starting pitcher for the North Division All-Stars in the Atlantic League All-Star Game. The Rutgers University product was a first-round pick (21st overall) of the Chicago Cubs in 2002. He was a teammate of Jason Bergmann's at Rutgers during the 2001 and 2002 seasons. Brownlie is 24-36 with a 4.19 ERA in 115 minor league games (70 starts) overall.

Crawford, 25, spent nearly all of the 2007 season with Minnesota 's Double-A New Britain club, going 8-5 with a 5.16 ERA in 27 games (11 starts). He also made three appearances for Minnesota 's Triple-A Rochester squad. The eight-year pro has appeared in 189 minor league games (21 starts), going 31-23 with a 4.24 ERA. He was born in Alaska , and grew up in Brisbane , Australia . Crawford pitched for Team Australia in the inaugural World Baseball Classic in 2006.

Hinckley, 25, went 9-10 with a 5.83 ERA in 25 games (23 starts) with Washington 's Double-A Harrisburg team in 2007. The Oklahoma native has spent all seven of his pro seasons with the Washington/Montreal franchise, which selected him in the third round of the 2001 First-Year Player Draft. He is 50-39 with a 4.02 ERA in 152 career games (146 starts).

Munoz, 25, appeared in 13 games with Washington as a September call-up last year, registering a 6.75 ERA despite holding the opposition scoreless in 11 of his 13 games. The southpaw posted a 2.56 ERA in 54 games with Washington 's Triple-A Columbus squad in 2007, and limited opposing left-handed hitters in the International League to a .198 average (16-for-81).

Stanford, 30, is 2-5 with a 3.61 ERA in 23 games (12 starts) in portions of three big league seasons (2003, '04, '07) with Cleveland . The 30 year-old owns a career record of 52-37 (.584), a 3.21 ERA and a 2.9/1 strikeout-to-walk ratio in eight minor-league seasons. By signing with the Nationals, the 6-foot-2 Stanford will play outside the Indians organization for the first time since signing with Cleveland as a non-drafted free agent in 2000 out of UNC-Charlotte.

Warden, 28, spent most of his 2007 season with Cleveland 's Double-A Akron club, going 4-4 with six saves and a 2.81 ERA in 40 appearances. The 6-foot-7 Tennessee native started the year at Triple-A Buffalo, but was reassigned to Akron after posting a 7.33 ERA in 16 games. He is 28-31 with a 4.12 ERA in 243 games career minor league games (41 starts).

Moeller, 32, is a veteran of eight big league seasons with Minnesota (2000), Arizona (2001-03), Milwaukee (2004-06), Los Angeles-NL (2007) and Cincinnati (2007). He has appeared in 421 big league games overall, including a career-high 101 contests in 2004 with Milwaukee . Moeller is a career .224 hitter with 26 homers and 113 RBI. The University of Southern California product played in a combined 30 games with Los Angeles-NL and Cincinnati in 2007, batting .161 with a homer and two RBI.

Jimenez, 25, batted .328 with 22 homers and 79 RBI in 90 games with Baltimore 's Double-A Bowie club after being released by Boston in May and signing as a minor league free agent. He finished tied for fifth in the Eastern League in home runs and eighth in RBI. His average would have ranked second in the league if he had enough at-bats to qualify, and his .591 slugging percentage would have led the circuit. Jimenez batted just .148 in 25 games with Boston 's Triple-A Pawtucket club before being released. The left-handed hitter is averaging 19 homers and 75 RBI in his last four seasons, and is batting .286 with 118 doubles, 85 homers and 375 RBI in seven minor league seasons overall.

Rogers , 29, batted .249 with 16 doubles, six homers and 35 RBI in 111 games with Boston 's Triple-A Pawtucket club in 2007. The Dominican Republic native, who originally signed with Baltimore as a non-drafted free agent in 1997, hit .207 with a homer and four RBI in 30 big league games with the Orioles in 2002 and 2005-06. Rogers is hitting .262 with 55 homers and 371 RBI in 930 minor league contests.

Dubois, 28, is a .289 hitter in 698 career minor league games. The 28 year-old spent portions of the 2004 and '05 seasons in the big leagues, batting .233 with 10 homers and 29 RBI in a combined 86 games with Chicago (NL) and Cleveland. In 2007, Dubois hit .251 with 13 home runs and 42 RBI in 104 games with Norfolk of the Triple-A International League.

Murphy, 28, appeared in 20 games in three stints with the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim in 2007, batting .184 with a double and two RBI. The switch hitter spent the majority of the 2007 campaign with Los Angeles' Triple-A Salt Lake club, where he hit .270 with 18 doubles, six triples, four homers and 32 RBI in 80 games. Murphy, who was selected by Los Angeles in the third round of the 2000 draft, also appeared in 48 games with the Angels in 2006, when he hit .229 with four doubles, a homer and six RBI.

Padilla, 28, batted .316 with 22 doubles, 16 homers and 69 RBI in a combined 124 games with Kansas City 's Double-A Wichita club and Triple-A Omaha squad in 2007. In 10 minor league seasons, the Puerto Rico native is hitting .278 with 81 homers and 484 RBI in 956 games. He was a third-round pick of the Phillies in the 1998 draft.

I'll look at these more closely overnight. But keep in mind: We might be heading into the hot part of the hot stove league.


By Barry Svrluga  |  November 27, 2007; 3:40 PM ET
 
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Next: Nationals hire Devon White

Comments

The thing to remember is that only a few of the rumors -- and even fewer of the REALLY, REALLY GOOD rumors -- will have any connection with reality.

But this is still going to be a lot of fun with the stove as hot as it gets all winter.

Personally, I think the Nats will want too much for the Chief to find any takers for him, but Jon Rauch will be wearing another uniform when spring training starts. (See, I just started a rumor!)

Posted by: Section 222 (Formerly 502) The Rumormonger | November 27, 2007 4:09 PM | Report abuse

Sigh... of the two, if I must be compelled to choose only one to keep, it would be Rauch; he seems to have a slightly wider repertoire and greater flexibility than the Chief, which makes him a better asset to today's Nats.

The Chief's a lights-out closer, but wouldn't that skill better serve a team whose win total will be in the 90s than one like the Nats whose win total is apt to be less?

Posted by: Hendo | November 27, 2007 4:41 PM | Report abuse

"The Chief's a lights-out closer..."

Posted by: Hendo | November 27, 2007 04:41 PM

____________

LIGHTS OUT???? Are you kidding me? More like a dimmer switch.

Posted by: Guess Who | November 27, 2007 4:47 PM | Report abuse

previous thread had rumblings of a possible Schneider trade to the Mets. Question was what do the Nats do in terms of a veteran catcher to help Jesus?

Nats just announced the signing of 19 FA's, one of which is 32 year-old catcher Chad Moeller. He's been invited to ST, so could this be the veteran backing up Jesus next season?

Discuss.

Posted by: e | November 27, 2007 4:48 PM | Report abuse

My prediction is a guy like albladejo or saul rivera, maybe schroder to the Rays for Dukes. Bowden has been all over Dukes since he was drafted. Isnt it going to be nice to get another shaky character guy with a ton of power and no plate discipline. I wonder where we'll play him and kearns after we give up half of our farm system for Adam Dunn...

Posted by: VT Nats Fan | November 27, 2007 4:51 PM | Report abuse

"More like a dimmer switch."

Hmm... "The Rheostat" has a certain tuneful quality all its own; but I'd save it for Danys Baez or Jorge Julio, maybe.

A lot of teams would still love to have a strikeout-firing closer with an ERA in the low 3s.

Posted by: Hendo | November 27, 2007 4:58 PM | Report abuse

hendo... "strikeout-firing closer?" really?

i don't think you can earn that moniker without striking out more than a batter an inning. which chief hasn't done. i like the guy, he's got the closer mentality and he just seems like a good guy. but he's not a "strikeout-firing closer." that title goes to guys like papelbon (k/9=12.96), wagner (10.54), fcordero (12.22), frodriguez (12.03), saito (10.91), lidge (11.82), street (11.34), dotel (12.02), myers (10.88), putz (10.30), valverde (10.91) or even al reyes (10.38), not a chad cordero at 7.44 k/9 ratio. chief's k/9 ratio is a lot closer to hoffman's 6.91 than it is to any of those guys.

Posted by: 231 (former other 506) | November 27, 2007 5:38 PM | Report abuse

side note: to be fair, those are last season's numbers, and he does average just over 8.17k/9 for his career. but that's not much higher than last year's 7.44.

Posted by: 231 (former other 506) | November 27, 2007 5:40 PM | Report abuse

I love trying to adapt to the new monikers of you season ticket folk.

Hendo, I too would take Rauch, but more because I think a team would overpay for Cordero based off of his stellar saves record over the past few years. Hoffman is the only guy who's got more over the past three years I think... Needless to say, that's excellent company (late season death knell aside).

I just want to know what we can do up the middle. If Gooz works, then I'm happy at SS. I love Belly at 2B, but I can't help but pine after someone with some more speed.

What if the O's go firesale?
I would love to get Brian Roberts, and they have the history of overpaying for relief pitching!

Posted by: NattyDelite! | November 27, 2007 5:48 PM | Report abuse

well... the Os also have a history of overvaluing their own players in trades, which is why they've completed so few trades in recent history.

Posted by: 231 (former other 506) | November 27, 2007 5:51 PM | Report abuse

what is scary about Cordero's K/9 is the difference between road and home last year. home 8.36 / away 6.27. Just guessing, at home in an extremely pro-pitcher park he was much more aggressive than in the other 15 parks in the NL, so that away number is likely to be more like how he'll pitch in Nats Park. It's been a while since we've had the good "dump Chad before he implodes / this guy is a stud debate." Anybody up for repeating their favorite lines?

Posted by: jon | November 27, 2007 5:56 PM | Report abuse

I like Cordero, but Rauch is definitely the better value. I believe his salary is 1/4 of Chad's and he's clearly more than 25% of the pitcher the Chief is. What that means of course is that Rauch is more tradeable and will bring more to the Nats. It'll be interesting to see how they handle it.

Looking over the list of 19 minor league FAs they signed, it appears they were simply stocking the AAA roster. There's really no one there who can help at all. A Flores/Moeller platoon is a serious downgrade from Schneider/Flores. Unless Schneider would somehow bring a #3 starter or a lead off hitter when packaged with Rauch, I wouldn't do it.

What do people think a package of Church, Schneider, and Rauch would bring? I feel like it would simply bring in return two more mediocre players. I don't think the Nats would get one really good player , Brian Roberts for instance, for the three of them.

Side note: it would kill me to see #23 playing for the O's.

Posted by: #4 | November 27, 2007 6:13 PM | Report abuse

and there'd be no reason for the Os to take schneider in any trade unless they actually made the trade to the mets of hernandez.

honestly, tho, i can't see angelos agreeing to send any star to the Nats (really, i have a hard time believing he won't tank any trade at the last second, especially for roberts and especially to the nats). that poor franchised is doomed as long as he's in charge.

Posted by: 231 (former other 506) | November 27, 2007 6:24 PM | Report abuse

"What do people think a package of Church, Schneider, and Rauch would bring? I feel like it would simply bring in return two more mediocre players. I don't think the Nats would get one really good player , Brian Roberts for instance, for the three of them."

They might get an Adam Dunn, whose 2007 VORP is roughly equal to the combined VORP of those three Nats.

They would also get unsightly holes in the bullpen and behind the plate.

Posted by: Hendo | November 27, 2007 7:17 PM | Report abuse

I read the Dukes story that was posted in the previous thread. It was interesting to see. It did not convince me to root against a Dukes trade though. He has serious problems, and needs serious help. It would be quite a nice story if Acta and company could help turn that young man around. Its a risk, but what IF he could turn around.

Posted by: NatBisquit | November 27, 2007 7:50 PM | Report abuse

Many minor leaguers coming in, some must leave. What happens to free-agent Larry Broadway?

Posted by: Scrub Fan | November 27, 2007 7:59 PM | Report abuse

Schnider, Church, Rauch, and Cordero? There isn't a team out there that would give up much more than a bag of baseballs for these guys. So, let's keep the lot and let our player development in the minors develop!

Posted by: 6th and D | November 27, 2007 8:29 PM | Report abuse

Shell is an interesting name. A quick google shows that, in 2005, he was BA's #10 prospect in an outstanding Angels system (everyone ahead of him has had major league time). Shell's ranking was based on very impressive numbers at Rancho Cucamonga (sp) in high A California League. 10.34 K/9, 3.59 ERA, 1.16 WHIP, but he took a step back the next two times he was promoted (2005 AA and 2006 AAA). When he repeats a level, his numbers bounce back a bit. Rotowire calls his peripheral stats unimpresive above A ball.

Barry - are these guys signed to minor league contracts so they can be assigned to Columbus? If that is the case, maybe Shell can improve by repeating AAA and going to a more pitching friendly league. He'll be 25 next spring. Worth a shot.

Posted by: jon | November 27, 2007 9:17 PM | Report abuse

Schneider probably is not a starter for a contender. I thought the signing after 2005 was the right move, but his OPS the past 2 years has been .649 and .662. I always thought he made up for his low batting average with some pop, but his SLG .329 and .336. Way out of line with his Montreal and 2005 numbers. I had hoped he would be seen as a cheap Varitek, but he looks more like a souped up Henry Blanco. He's merely a bridge to Flores.

I'd like to have a back up other than Flores so Flores could catch 100 games at AA/AAA next year. I think a Moeller type would be fine if we brought in a couple more to compete in spring training - maybe a 25 year old minor league FA (Quiroz!). Also, Bennett is a free agent and we could bring him in for a year.

Posted by: jon | November 27, 2007 9:41 PM | Report abuse

Cordero is heartbreak waiting to happen. Maybe I'm crazy, but Rauch has always struck me as a classic closer - big, nasty attitude, bounces back from bad outings, pounds the strike zone. Maybe he's a late blooming version of Jonathan Paplebon. I'd say bye-bye to the Chief and turn the ball over to Big Jon in the 9th this season.

Posted by: Vandy | November 27, 2007 10:19 PM | Report abuse

"Cordero is heartbreak waiting to happen."

____________________

*WAITING* to happen? Dude broke my heart all season long.

Posted by: Chad's ex-wife | November 27, 2007 11:34 PM | Report abuse

I assume that many of these minor league free agents are signed to fill minor league roster spots until our homegrown players are ready for promotion. I guess they provide some depth as a hedge against multiple injuries, but it seems unlikely that any make the team out of the starting gate. It seems more likely that some February/March signings will net some better players (e.g., Young, Belliard).

Question: Would the Angels be willing to pay a significant portion of Gary Matthews contract to move him? Would they take FLop in trade? They could use a 2B-SS guy if they move Kendrick to the Marlins for Carbrera. The Nats could use him as a leadoff hitter and CF.

Posted by: NatBisquit | November 28, 2007 8:06 AM | Report abuse

Another interesting name is Jason Dubois. He has spent time in the majors in 2004 and 2005 with the Cubs and Indians, but spent 2006 at Buffalo and 2007 in Norfolk. Decent numbers at Norfolk, good power in both the majors and AAA. A problem of his has been he's right handed. Normally, that is the wrong side of a platoon, but, with Church's splits vs LHP and RHP, maybe Dubois can hook on as a corner outfielder, with Kearns in CF when Dubois plays.

Tommy Murphy had a lot of time with the Angels last year but really did not do much.

Posted by: jon | November 28, 2007 8:14 AM | Report abuse

Mets already have Estrada. I would take Carlos Gomez for Cordero and Church, but I bet the Mets wouldn't go for it. I agree with sixth and D. Might as well stick with what we have. Like last year, Nats could be much better than predicted. In my opinion, there's more potential on this team than most realize---if the team can avoid injury. We need Hill, Bergmann, and Johnson to be healthy. Having some sense of reality, I'm not counting on Patterson.

Posted by: j. campbell | November 28, 2007 8:15 AM | Report abuse

please don't trade schneider. he can bat 8th for all i care. but he is helping flores and young pitching staff adapt. he's a top of the line catcher and i could see him backing up flores down the road a couple years.

i say trade cordero now before this new stadium opens. i think the brewers are still looking for a closer. and they have plenty of starters and some nice minor leaguers. keep rauch and package him with a bat mid season to upgrade somewhere else.

it's almost christmas!

Posted by: longterm | November 28, 2007 8:36 AM | Report abuse

Sorry for posting again, but I can't let a question about an AL roster hang out there.

NatsBisquit - you may be onto something. I suspect the Angels would be willing to move Matthews, FLop might be Soscia's type of player, and they will have some competition for 3d-SS-2d this year. I don't think money should be an issue either to the Lerners or Artie Moreno (LAA owner), but the HGH stuff about Matthews may make him to much of a risk. Moreno is pretty committed to a huge payroll and trying to become LA's team. He has been over the luxury tax threshold at least once recently.

The Angels are pretty stacked with prospects and have several options for the competitive spots (Brandon Wood, Maicer Izturis, and Erick Aybar in the mix for SS, and Chone Figgins currently at 3d but capable of playing CF and 2d, a recovering Dallas McPherson) Wood and McPherson were BA top 5 prospects in all of baseball, and Aybar I think was top 50. I think the O-Cab trade was to make room for Aybar or Wood or both if Kendrick is in a Miggy C deal. Also, the Angels are likely to make a play for Miggy of OP@CY. Depending on who they move in trade, they may be looking to move an OF and add an MI. FLop for Matthews would not be enough, I/M/O, but would be a start. Also, I would not kick if we got any of their catchers back (Mathis, Napoli, or Conger in High A).

Posted by: jon | November 28, 2007 8:56 AM | Report abuse

"Might as well stick with what we have." That's my gut feeling too, but it's complicated by a couple of factors.

First, the team has trumpeted its intent to grow the payroll in the 2008 season, presumably to improve performance. If they end up standing pat, what will the impact be on the team's performance -- not to mention the front office's credibility?

Put another way, has not the Nats FO more or less committed itself to spending as much money as it takes to put a winning team (i.e., at least 82-80) on the field? Moreover, irrespective of commitment, how bad would it be to greet customers at the new ballpark with essentially the same old sub-.500 team?

Right or wrong, all the signs, plus Barry's vibes, are pointing to at least one big name being added to the roster. At least from an entertainment business point of view, it's probably right -- and would only be seriously wrong if it damaged the team's ability to continue to build the farm system.

Posted by: Hendo | November 28, 2007 9:02 AM | Report abuse

I just don't see FLop getting traded, especially to the Angels. He is decidedly not a Scocsia kind of player. FLop is a moody guy with a barrel full of personal problems. Judging from the experience that Scocsia had with Jose Guillen, I don't think he'd be eager to add FLop.

In fact, JimBo is probably one of the few GMs that sees value in FLop because of his penchant for accumulating guys with checkered reputations - Fick, Young, etc.

The focus in guessing at trade possibilities should be with teams that need one or two quality bull pen arms and a LH bat. That's what the Nats are shopping.

Posted by: #4 | November 28, 2007 9:11 AM | Report abuse

FLop for Matthews? Especially with LAA eating cash?

come on, guys. if you're going to be pie-in-the-sky, why not go for vlad?

FLop is a guy half of the people posting here want to non-tender. you won't get *anything* of value for him. if you want matthews, esp if you want them to throw in cash, you have to give them something decent in return.

i'd be more interested in willets than matthews, anyway. younger, better on-base machine, better runner.

Posted by: 231 (former other 506) | November 28, 2007 9:17 AM | Report abuse

My prediction is a guy like albladejo or saul rivera, maybe schroder to the Rays for Dukes. Bowden has been all over Dukes since he was drafted. Isnt it going to be nice to get another shaky character guy with a ton of power and no plate discipline.

2006 283ABs 44BB/47K
2007 184ABs 33BB/44K

He may have no discipline in his private life but he's learning it in the batters box.

Posted by: Elijah's Mom | November 28, 2007 9:40 AM | Report abuse

Hendo makes a good point about the promised salary structure. 231 makes a good point about FLop.

Putting all that together, I would guess that the structure of the trade JimBo makes will be something like this:

1. Find a team that is looking to dump salary.

2. Find a team that needs to add bull pen arms.

3. On that team find a player that is making more than he should ($7-10 million per year) for the next year or two but is still a quality player. He should play a position, CF maybe or lead off hitter, that the Nats' need.

4. The Nats then trade their relatively low cost relievers, Rauch and Colome for instance, along with Church, so the team adds a low cost OF.

5. The Nats get the "impact player" and increase their pay roll without giving up any prospects. Their trade partner lowers their salary and gets helpful pieces in return.

When you add this player, the new contracts for Young and Belliard,, and the signing of Zimmerman to a long term extension, that gets the Nats' payroll to about $60 million, I think.

Posted by: #4 | November 28, 2007 9:43 AM | Report abuse

Another club would be happy to take Felipe Lopez as a classic "bad scenery" case. The Nats would end up looking dumb, but there may be no other option.

On another note, I know it's not the cup of tea for this blog to talk about the Washington football team, but watching ESPN's "coverage" of Sean Taylor's death made me think the man deserved better. Lucky for you all, Boswell already wrote what I was going to:
http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2007/11/27/AR2007112702537.html?hpid=topnews

Taylor was on his way to becoming the Dmitri Young of his team. A person with a checkered past reborn as a role model. I realize the last news you probably heard of him was spitting in the Bucs game last season, but that's because ESPN doesn't run stories about athletes who have turned their life around and also refuse to talk to journalists until they achieve some sort of sports-related milestone.

Thanks for indulging me, I think the record ought to be set straight.

Posted by: sxpatr | November 28, 2007 9:44 AM | Report abuse

while another club may be happy to take FLop as a classic "bad scenery" case, that doesn't mean they'd give the Nats anything worthwhile in return for him.

Posted by: 231 (former other 506) | November 28, 2007 9:54 AM | Report abuse

So ESPN reports that the Cubs are making Mark Prior available for trade... he's only 27, and apparently Dr. James Andrews has given him a great prognosis.

Is he another reclamation project that we should take a peek at? If the trade is right, and we don't lose anything of substantial value to us (i.e. Lopez - the Cubs have never had any trouble taking on combustible or attitude guys ... like Zambrano), this has the kind of risk/reward balance that our front-office seems to enjoy pursuing.

If Prior could return to even half of his previous stature, I have to think that he'd be an amazing benefit to our staff.

Posted by: faNATic | November 28, 2007 10:25 AM | Report abuse

Non-tendering FLop does not mean has no value. It just means that, at $5 million for a non-contender, he's over-priced. The Angels under Scoscia (sp?) are a tools oriented team that runs aggressively, plays "NL style" baseball and does not value OBP highly. But for the attitude, FLop could be a decent bench guy for them and could even press for time at short if others bomb.

I agree it is all moot because we do not have enough to get a Matthews even if we packaged our chits. The Angels have bullpen depth and would not view Dmitri as an upgrade over Kotchman. Willits is a nice target, but he may be part of a Miggy deal (I've seen him in M-Cab rumors, but OP@CY would make sense in an M-T deal). Willits for FLop + cash is basically a redundant bench guy for a redundant bench guy.

Posted by: jon | November 28, 2007 10:29 AM | Report abuse

It's not that I think FLop is a star in the making, but I don't think that Matthews is much of a prize either. They paid Matthews way too much and got way too little last year. He crowds their outfield. Of course I would rather have Willits, but for the very reason you state (FLop isn't worth much) I did not suggest that possibility. Do you have to put a reliever in the deal? OK. Reliever's are available. We can find other relievers for an 82-80 team. Glad I could stimulate the discussion.

Next question: Would the Brewers trade Bill Hall for a reliever or two not named Rauch or Cordero?

Posted by: NatBisquit | November 28, 2007 10:39 AM | Report abuse

"'Cordero is heartbreak waiting to happen.'

____________________

*WAITING* to happen? Dude broke my heart all season long.

Posted by: Chad's ex-wife | November 27, 2007 11:34 PM"

==============

Yeah, that Colorado game where he blew a five-run lead and essentially gave them a World Series appearance still rankles me. (Remember, if the Rockies had lost ONE EXTRA GAME during the regular season, that whole magical post-season run would never have happened).

Posted by: Juan-John | November 28, 2007 10:43 AM | Report abuse

Slightly OT, but Barry -- any news on the Opening Day schedule (Sunday night vs. normal day later on)?

Posted by: Juan-John | November 28, 2007 10:46 AM | Report abuse

"no value" and "getting a worthwhile return" aren't the same things. i didn't say he had no value at all, just that he won't bring any trade return that will mean anything to the nats. i'm not sure i'd agree that willits is a "redundant bench guy." he'd be a 70 pt OBP upgrade from lopez and a switch hitter. and stronger from the RH side of the plate (opposite of church).

i've seen willit's name in the cabrera sweepstakes as well. i'm not saying the nats should or would get him. just that if we want to get anything decent in a trade, we're going to have to offer more than FLop or other random spare parts.

regardless, i doubt LA would trade willits for FLop and cash anyway. i just find it amusing that people think a guy they don't like that much has any real trade value.

Posted by: 231 (former other 506) | November 28, 2007 10:56 AM | Report abuse

Maybe Prior AND Pie for Cordero, Lopez, and Church. But not just Prior - too much remains uncertain.

Posted by: lowcountry | November 28, 2007 10:58 AM | Report abuse

I say go after Prior. Who would it take, and what do the Cubs need? I have no idea. I can't for the life of me come up with the name of the Cubs centerfielder, so maybe they'd be interested in Church. Is Cordero an upgrade over Dempster?

Posted by: Scott in Shaw | November 28, 2007 11:10 AM | Report abuse

Does anyone remember this great article on Prior?

http://www.theonion.com/content/node/50033

Posted by: Section 506 (Before moving) | November 28, 2007 11:34 AM | Report abuse

The Cubs aren't in the market for a closer, they just resigned Kerry Wood and seem intent on using him in that role. If I recall correctly they have been rumored to have interest in Church before which may continue since they just traded Jacque Jones to Detroit.

Posted by: Gibby | November 28, 2007 11:44 AM | Report abuse

based on history, I would not be surprised at all to see Bowden move Patterson, Ayala, and Johnson, for someone else's "discards" - similar to the Kearns + Lopes/Majewski + Bray + Clayton. Maybe it works, maybe it doesn't, but he's probably not out much if they wind up with a bag of balls (which is more than Cincinnati has from that, at this point).
I hope it isn't Prior, but if they throw in a "Joe Who" toolsy AAA outfielder with some theoretical potential, I can imaging that happening.

Posted by: cevans | November 28, 2007 11:46 AM | Report abuse

i still don't understand why everyone here hates on felipe lopez. he's been playing out of position his entire stay here. give the guy a break and don't overrate belliard. with nook logan a role player, felipe is the only true base threat we have. he's also one of the few people on this team i expect to improve upon last years numbers.

Posted by: longterm | November 28, 2007 11:51 AM | Report abuse

231: by "redundant bench guy," I meant for the current teams. FLop is redundant due to Guzman and Belliard, while Willits is stuck behind Hunter, Matthews, Guerrero, and Anderson (and Figgins, if there is an injury). Willits I think would be an ideal lead-off guy for this team and allow us to trade one of Kearns or Church, while I think FLop could be a good utility player for a team that wants speed off its bench. I think it is more likely than not that Willits will be moved. Too useful to sit and no place to play.

Posted by: jon | November 28, 2007 11:54 AM | Report abuse

...thinking about it a little bit more there may be the beginnings of a deal with the Cubs. I could convince myself that they may want Cordero as insurance to Wood as closer and/or a fireball set-up man. They don't have a lot of other quality in the bullpen that I can tell.

Their outfield seems thin as well which would suit adding Church but I don't think they'd give up Pie in that deal. Pie is the better player and they need depth anyways with Jones traded and Cliff Lloyd a FA.

Posted by: Gibby | November 28, 2007 11:55 AM | Report abuse

Just a comment about relievers and the debate between Cordero and Rauch. Cordero is much more aggravating than Rauch but it should be remembered that he is four years younger, I think (25 versus Rauch's 29). Rauch has also pitched a lot the last two years and had arm problems once. So I would keep Cordero.

Posted by: KM | November 28, 2007 11:58 AM | Report abuse

It's the tats. Tats, and frowning too much. And even when he is hustling, he doesn't look like it.

Seriously, I think it's because he doesn't have that one highlight play to identify him -- no "branding," if you will -- to rally around, like, say, Zimm's homer to beat the Yankees, or his I-pay-to-see-this! glovework. Works the other way, too -- e.g., Nook getting "pinned like a bug" at third was a trademark-level event.

And he needs a better nickname.

**************
i still don't understand why everyone here hates on felipe lopez...
Posted by: longterm | November 28, 2007 11:51 AM

Posted by: cevans | November 28, 2007 12:01 PM | Report abuse

Thanks Gibby! I was unaware of the Cubs's Jones-Infante trade. That does indeed seem a nod to Pie (and gives them very little reason to want Lopez). There is a whole lot of player movement going on out there already.

Posted by: lowcountry | November 28, 2007 12:04 PM | Report abuse

Don't forget, the trades don't have to come off the 40-man roster. They signed ALL their draft picks this year -- plenty of good sweeteners for a deal for someone like, say, Delmon Young, or speaking of Willises(dare I hope?) D-Train. (Nevermind Prior - much more chance Dontrell gets well, I think, and despite their protestations to the contrary, I think they'd move him for the right prospects.)

Posted by: cevansjr | November 28, 2007 12:08 PM | Report abuse

I'm not sure that we'd want Pie in any case. I know he had streaks where he looked pretty decent in the past year, but in my book, he grades out as a younger Nook Logan with potentially less average (scary) and slightly more pop when he does get the bat on a ball.

Just for kicks, here's their numbers from the season past:

Nook:
325 AB, 39 R, 86 H, 18 2B, 4 3B, 0 HR, 21 RBI, 23 SB, .265 BA, .304 OBP, and .345 SLG.

Pie:
177 AB, 26 R, 38 H, 9 2B, 3 3B, 2 HR, 20 RBI, 8 SB, .215 BA, .271 OBP, .333 SLG.

For those that hated Nook's strikeouts for their rally-killing potential, he strikes out 33.1% of the time, but Pie is not much better at 29.1%.

I still don't think there's anything wrong with taking the flyer on Prior (you like that, right?) alone... We give up a player (Lopez) at a position where we don't think we'll get much more value out of the player over who we have now. They give up someone who has become too much of a risk for them to stomach.

For the record, I don't have anything against Lopez, I just think he tends towards expendable at this point. As for base threats, Manny Acta has proven to be remarkably docile on the basepaths, rarely giving the green light anyway. If his style were more aggressive on the basepaths (which I would personally like), then the sacrifice of Lopez' speed would mean more. In my view of the lineup for next year, however, he would be relegated to a Nook-like role status anyway.

Posted by: faNATic | November 28, 2007 12:22 PM | Report abuse

Trading prospects (especially '07 draft picks) is not part of the Plan (TM).
_________________________________
(Nevermind Prior - much more chance Dontrell gets well, I think, and despite their protestations to the contrary, I think they'd move him for the right prospects.)

Posted by: cevansjr | November 28, 2007 12:08 PM

Posted by: Stan (ok, Scott) in Shaw | November 28, 2007 12:23 PM | Report abuse

And if we trade Lopez who would be this year's Belliard signing that could fill in for 2/3rds of the season (or more) after the inevitable Guzman injury?

Posted by: Gibby | November 28, 2007 12:34 PM | Report abuse

Gibby,

Re: losing Lopez, I liked the idea from earlier that went largely unnoticed (credit to Natbisquit) about obtaining Bill Hall from the Brewers.

Hall is a career infielder capable of manning 2B, SS, or 3B, but last year, because of a glut of infielders, he was put into the outfield for the Brewers. He had a slightly down year by his standards, but still swing a pretty potent bat.

In addition, the Brewers just lost their own Cordero closer (Francisco) to the Reds, who signed him for 4 years. They've been trolling for relievers, picking up Guillermo Mota (good luck with him, Brewers) from the Mets in a trade for catcher Johnnny Estrada.

This seems like it has the potential to be a pretty good trade partner, and might help us greatly increase the strength of our infield. The loss of Lopez would not hurt, especially when you consider that replacing his occasional surliness would be Bill Hall, fairly universally regarded as one of the good humans in baseball.

In addition, this might help us restore Belliard to what he was originally intended to be, the capable utility man.

Posted by: faNATic | November 28, 2007 12:59 PM | Report abuse

From what I've read, Prior is arbitration eligible and under Cub control only for this coming season, after which he will become a free agent. Also, he won't be able to pitch, best case scenario, until early May, and you have no idea what he will be able to do at that point. So unless the cost was very minimal, I think it would be rather risky to trade for him.

As for trying to pry Little Sarge away from the Angels, their stated plans are to move him to LF and slot aging Garrett Anderson in at DH. I assume they'd be more likely to pay Matthews and play there than to eat his salary and dump him. He's still a better outfielder than Reggie Willits, who has no pop whatsoever in his bat.

Posted by: blueson | November 28, 2007 12:59 PM | Report abuse

Gibby says:

"And if we trade Lopez who would be this year's Belliard signing that could fill in for 2/3rds of the season (or more) after the inevitable Guzman injury?"

This has been my point all along. The real weak point on the Nats is middle infield. I don't think that Guzman is particularly injury-prone (unlike some others). There are NO prospects in the pipeline even close to filling in in a pinch. The Nats are actually pretty flush in the outfield - perhaps not with the choices that everyone would want, but we're not going to be tossing single-A players into the outfield this year. Two injuries in the middle infield, and we're in BAD shape. Plus, in terms of what we want out there, we're kinds hurting, too.

I am totally willing to see Lopez and Guzman start the season out there, but this is one place where a trade would totally change the complexion of the team.

Posted by: Wigi | November 28, 2007 1:18 PM | Report abuse

aaaaaaaaahhhhhhhhhh

http://clarkconstruction.oxblue.com/clarkhuntsmoot/

Posted by: longterm | November 28, 2007 1:39 PM | Report abuse

Church would make some sense for the Cubs, he could be insurance in CF if Pie fails to hit again, and could also platoon with Matt Murton in right (though neither is a true RF). The Cubs don't need Lopez because they already have too many mediocre second sackers. Church for Prior? Church and a reliever for Prior and a prospect? I grew up a Cubs fan, and I don't know if either team can get too excited over those swaps.

Posted by: Bob L. Head | November 28, 2007 1:53 PM | Report abuse

Longterm:

I did the very same thing... of course, when I see sunshine and 57 degrees, I say "ahhhhhhhhhhh" too.

Curently partly cloudy and 25 degrees at 10 AM... and the sun hasn't come up yet.

Posted by: Wigi | November 28, 2007 1:56 PM | Report abuse

Oh Wigi - I remember and empathize. My sympathies.

Posted by: lowcountry (now liberated from Iowa) | November 28, 2007 2:36 PM | Report abuse

I think Church would look good in the blue PJs. He would look even better playing in BWF half the games. A lot of the RFK outs and doubles would be out of Wrigley, he'd be able to hit down in the order, especially if they do wind up bringing Kendell back, and he might even like playing with Soriano and Daryl Ward again.

********
Church would make some sense for the Cubs, he could be insurance in CF if Pie fails to hit again, and could also platoon with Matt Murton in right (though neither is a true RF). The Cubs don't need Lopez because they already have too many mediocre second sackers. Church for Prior? Church and a reliever for Prior and a prospect? I grew up a Cubs fan, and I don't know if either team can get too excited over those swaps.
Posted by: Bob L. Head | November 28, 2007 01:53 PM

Posted by: cevans | November 28, 2007 2:44 PM | Report abuse

Wigi:

I don't know how you do that. I go crazy in DC when we only have 10 hours of daylight in the winter. And, no, i don't think the 23 hours of sun in the summer would be enough for me.

Posted by: #4 | November 28, 2007 2:47 PM | Report abuse

Looking at the webcam...if they don't install the premium seats soon there will be a lot of rich people with sore butts behind home plate. Not saying that's a bad thing, but...

Maybe they're going to install them one at a time as they're sold, and that's why there aren't any yet?

Posted by: Scott in Shaw | November 28, 2007 2:55 PM | Report abuse

If you look at what the Reds are paying for Francisco Cordero in FA I think Chad Cordero has very real value in the trade market.

I think they shop Cordero and maybe 1 other reliever (Ayala, Rivera, etc.) and Ryan Church ONLY if they sign Andruw Jones.

Posted by: estuartj | November 28, 2007 3:11 PM | Report abuse

If the Nats do decide to hold off on moving up a lot of their prospects I would be VERY excited to live in Harrisburg...

CA Flores
1B Marrero
SS Desmond
LF Daniels
CF Maxwell
SP Detwiler
SP Meyers
SP VanAllen

Posted by: estuartj | November 28, 2007 3:17 PM | Report abuse

do we really want flores back in the minors? he could play every day. and he could work with detwiler and balester a lot. maybe that is the best move. maybe in a roundabout way that gives those guys a catcher who has major league experience to work with in a game. the same guy who i'd think would move up with them for good by the end of the year. that would be the prudent move.

Posted by: longterm | November 28, 2007 3:26 PM | Report abuse

i'll definitely agree with the sentiments that you can't trade away (or non-tender) Lopez without replacing him. In fact, with the injury issues they've had in the MI, they still need to add a couple of potential utility guys at least as non-roster invitees so they can have a little depth going into spring training. trading lopez would mean needing to add one more, and one who's a little better quality than jiminez.

Posted by: 231 (former other 506) | November 28, 2007 3:52 PM | Report abuse

Sounds to me like they're at least thinking about starting the season with Flores at Columbus or Harrisburg. Why else sign Chad Moeller? (caveat: he has hit righties better than lefties, so playing him once a week against LHP gains nothing other than a day off for Schneider) If they wanted a minor league backup, Cota would fill the bill, probably for less money & 7 years younger.

The only other plausible explanation is a possible deal for Schneider, but I think he's more valuable to the Nats than anyone else, unless Bowden can sucker Omar Minaya into overpaying. Mike Pelfrey and Lastings Milledge?

Posted by: Section 307 (former 418) | November 28, 2007 4:18 PM | Report abuse

From the list of minor league FA signees, I tend to like Jim Ed Warden (how can you not like a 6'7" guy from Tennessee named Jim Ed Warden? The next Rauch, perhaps?), Steven Shell (still relatively young with some promise) and Bobby Brownlie (former phenom). The rest look like filler.

Posted by: Bob L. Head | November 28, 2007 4:19 PM | Report abuse

I agree there is no way we can non-tender Lopez. I think our infield roster (baring trades) is;

Johnson (If on DL then Josh Whitesell)
Young
Lopez
Belliard
Guzman
Zimmerman
TBD (backup 3b, SS)

That's 7 guys, assuming we carry 2 catchers we would have room for 4 outfielders;
WMP, Church, Kearns and anybody but Langerhans/Logan/Fick!

Posted by: estuartj | November 28, 2007 4:31 PM | Report abuse

I am less concerned about moving one of the middle infielders and potentially needing to play a AAAA replacement player in the event of an injury. They have $4+ million in Guzman in 2008 and $1.6 million in Belliard. If Lopez isn't going to start ahead of Belliard, I don't think you can offer him arbitration, where he'll get at least $3.1 million (max cut) and more likely $4 - 5 million. You can figure there will be others not offered arbitration, potential rule 5 guys you could keep as a backup, cheaper major league FAs. The minor league FAs (Jimenez and Rogers) aren't likely to be qualitly long term replacements, but for a non-contender, don't you think that you can run the risk?

Conversely, to a contender, $4 million for a back-up is not outrageous, and his major league experience and basestealing probably make him feasible. Heck, you might even make your trade offer contingent on him signing for $2.5 million and an option, in which case he's attractive.

Posted by: jon | November 28, 2007 4:44 PM | Report abuse

Rauch is arbitration eligible this year for the first time, so his salary is will definitely go up.

In looking at Cordero, one thing that leaps out at me is that his workload this season was very different from say, a Papelbon, Wagner or even a Hoffman. Papelbon had 59 appearances and pitched on no days rest 8 times. Wagner, 66 games and no days rest 11 times. Hoffman, 61 games, 21 on no days rest, and a blown save against Colorado on October 1st, making Colorado the wild card team in the NLCS. Cordero -- 75 appearances and no days rest 27 times. I know we can park adjust statistics, but has anybody developed a way to adjust statistics for workload?

Posted by: Sect 422 | November 28, 2007 5:11 PM | Report abuse

"Conversely, to a contender, $4 million for a back-up is not outrageous, and his major league experience and base stealing probably make him feasible."

Not sure I'd agree with that. At least 1/2 the contenders this year would not have a back up infielder making $4 million. The only teams that might are the Yankees and Red Sox. Do you think the D'Backs or Rockies with their $55 million in payroll are spending $4 million on their utility infielder?

Posted by: #4 | November 28, 2007 5:30 PM | Report abuse

#4 - I guess I should have said a high budget team rather than a contender. You are right about the Red Sox - Hinske was $5 million, I think Cora was $2 million, as was Kielty. Cubs paid over $4 million to 2 middle relievers (Eyre, howry) and $2.75 to De Rosa, Texas paid $3.5 to a platoon guy (Catalonotto) . . . Cubs and TX $'s from a quick look at ESPN's website. Don't have figures for guys like Erstad. at least some of the teams we have discussed as landing spots for Lopez -LAA, ChiCubs - are high budget teams that try to contend.

Posted by: jon | November 28, 2007 6:00 PM | Report abuse

Jon:

Yeah, I'd think that budgets would dictate that a team would have to have at least a $100 million pay roll to spend $4 million on a back up. My guess is that the Nats will be no more than $50-60 million in 2008 with an inflation adjusted ceiling at about $90 million in 2007 dollars as the years go on. That would make them about 10th in MLB in payroll.

Posted by: #4 | November 28, 2007 6:11 PM | Report abuse

BTW, Jon, here's a great site for salary research

http://www.sportscity.com/MLB-Salaries/

Posted by: #4 | November 28, 2007 6:24 PM | Report abuse

Maybe we should look at what we have. Church's season extended to 550 at bats would give him at least 50 doubles, 17 home runs, still a decent era and oba. Other than the star outfielders out there, who has better stats? He isn't the best center fielder because of his range, but he is a good defensive player. Lopez was tossed from shortstop to second and back to shortstop and didn't complain, but don't tell me it wouldn't affect his attitude. It would mine and I'm 66 years old. He'll be back, guaranteed. And Cordero. Other than when his grandmother was dying and another brief spell, he has been as steady as practically any reliever in the NL. Despite a relatively poor year he still had 37 saves and an era slightly over 3.00. But I would love to see Flores as our starting catcher. Hey, did I mention Carlos Gomez. Prior! Wow, I can't believe, with the Nat's history of injuries

Posted by: j. campbell | November 28, 2007 6:27 PM | Report abuse

Just continuing my last thought...history of injuries, why would they even consider Prior. Pie does not deserve comment.

Posted by: J. Campbell | November 28, 2007 6:32 PM | Report abuse

I think we are being a little too harsh about Lopez. There is a real possibility that he will play better this year, maybe much better. One aspect which should improve is his defense, since the grass at the new park will be taller than the grass at RFK, which suffered from needing to be maintained also for (shudder) soccer.

There is no chance whatsoever he will be non-tendered, and there is every reason to believe he will be a starter this year. Belliard, if he is not traded, is likely to be a backup.

Posted by: Three more months | November 28, 2007 6:35 PM | Report abuse

Scott, I think it's the weather -- leather seats don't do well outdoors in winter.

"What?! 50 large and I gotta sit on [RF]ing PLASTIC??"


*********
...if they don't install the premium seats soon there will be a lot of rich people with sore butts behind home plate. Not saying that's a bad thing, but...

Maybe they're going to install them one at a time as they're sold, and that's why there aren't any yet?
Posted by: Scott in Shaw | November 28, 2007 02:55 PM

Posted by: cevans in Shaw too | November 28, 2007 6:40 PM | Report abuse

It's not realistic to say, "Church projected over 550 ABs will have X,Y, and Z stats." There is a reason he's not getting that many ABs. He cannot sustain a full season or hit LHP consistently. He's also well-below average in CF. He played out there a lot in 2006 and was one of the reasons they were a bad defensive team.

FLop is an OK player with lots of emotional baggage. Like many guys on this roster, he'd be OK surrounded by a bunch of other good players. They can afford one of him, not 5 like they have now. I also agree with TMM. Lopez will be the starter. The guy earning the most money almost always starts. It'll have very little to do with who's better.

I agree that Chad is a quality closer. I'm not eager for them to trade him.

Posted by: #4 | November 28, 2007 6:48 PM | Report abuse

Barry - how about an article previewing the Rule 5 draft and possible fits for the Nats?

All - here is a link to a Baseball America preview: http://www.baseballamerica.com/today/prospects/news/265252.html

Brian Barton is a pretty interesting name. Cleveland has ton of OF prospects, he seemed to have slipped due to injury, so he's available. Still hit .300 and is a 5 tool guy. Another who is not on the list who might be worth a role of the dice would Chris Lubanski (OF Royals). Finally, Hendo - there were some other guys in the AFL available. Any impressions?

Posted by: jon | November 28, 2007 8:15 PM | Report abuse

shell, bergolla, and jimenez look like they might actually be okay. shell is still only 24, and, after all, he is a pitcher. The more, the merrier.

Posted by: Mary | November 28, 2007 8:32 PM | Report abuse

Random thought, any chance we can trade FLop for Brendan Harris? Get a decent .280 hitter and a great person in the clubhouse.

Posted by: andrew | November 28, 2007 8:55 PM | Report abuse

"Finally, Hendo," asks jon, "there were some other guys in the AFL available [in the Rule 5 draft]. Any impressions?"

Of the names listed in Baseball America that I saw, I can't say that I was bowled over by anybody. There were two outfielders I liked -- Chris Dickerson for his slugging and Dexter Fowler for his OBP and walks. Dickerson is protected; Fowler is not, but I'm not sure I'd drop the $50K on Fowler when there are a few OBP guys already in the Nats' system whom we should give a look if that's what we want.

BBA wrote highly of Yankees prospect Steven Jackson. He's a power guy who *might* be the next Nolan Ryan, I guess, but his 5+ ERA in the minors and AFL doesn't give me a lot to get excited about. His 10 o'clock slot put me in mind of Ayala; I suppose if he can start fooling a few more batters he might be a steal.

And it *would* be fun, I confess, to gig the Pinstripes. But I'll leave it to the Nats' scouts and Randy St. Claire to make a more knowledgeable evaluation.

Posted by: Hendo | November 28, 2007 9:00 PM | Report abuse

Just to pretend this isn't OT, can we get this guy to sing the national anthem to open the new stadium? (funny, teensiest bit NSFW)
http://news.bbc.co.uk/sport1/hi/football/7109058.stm

Posted by: cevans | November 28, 2007 9:14 PM | Report abuse

Should be no problem, cevans, as long as he doesn't try to sing "The Star-Spangled Banner" in Croatian.

(Staying OT for a minute, someone should find out who that group was that sang the anthem at the Caps game on Monday night. Scary good, they were.)

Posted by: Hendo | November 28, 2007 9:23 PM | Report abuse

And now with the Rayus-Twins trade yesterday the Twins need a middle infielder so would they trade Kevin Slowey for a middle infielder? The Rays still have a surplus of outfielders and are clearly looking for pitching. San Diego looks like a team that needs to make a trade or two. They need an outfielder and an infielder. Cleveland has this Barfield kid who needs a new home. You can't really rule out Baltimore as a trading partner because of MacPhail- they might not be willing to trade a high profile player to the Nationals, but they might exchange parts. Bill Hall in Milwaukee should be available.

Posted by: NatBisquit | November 29, 2007 7:54 AM | Report abuse

'Cause we gotta hate on somebody, longterm, and Nook's stats ended up being not that bad.

And yes, Hendo, you've nearly convinced me that strike outs are not that important.

==========

i still don't understand why everyone here hates on felipe lopez...
Posted by: longterm | November 28, 2007 11:51 AM

Posted by: Section 506 (Before moving) | November 29, 2007 9:01 AM | Report abuse

wow. i can't believe delmon young was on the block. mauer/morneau/young is nasty. if only the nats could get a core like that...

i've gone full circle on this a couple times and i'm back where i started. i don't know if we can do anything this offseason but wait for prospects to emerge. wily mo/belliard/meathook were our acquisitions for this year. and i have to say those were good value signings. i'd like to see bowden do something but can fully understand that this team has somewhat locked in place.

whatever the next move is will be a big one and it must work. it almost certainly appears that the next move will require a couple of stages of rearranging to play out. for the first time i think a mistake could be an obvious setback for this team.

Posted by: longterm | November 29, 2007 9:29 AM | Report abuse

That's funny, cevans!

Posted by: natsfan1a | November 29, 2007 9:30 AM | Report abuse

Here's the question I'm stuck on. The Nats have said that they are going to significantly increase payroll this year. I'm not advocating an increase; I'm simply stating that they have indicated they would. They have also said that they do not plan to sign any FAs. Therefore the two options to increase payroll would be a lopsided salary trade and resigning Zimmerman and Lopez. Yet, the trade ideas being floated here - good ones all of them - involve a decrease or neutral impact on payroll. Are we (me included) not being creative enough in our thinking? Is there a near all-star making $6-8 million out there that could be had for a package of Rauch, Church, and a middle reliever (about $2 - 3 million in payroll)?

Unless this sort of trade is made, it does not seem that what they are saying and what they are doing is adding up - not the first time of course.

Posted by: #4 | November 29, 2007 9:39 AM | Report abuse

Good point, #4. Let's put our thinking caps on.

What teams almost made the playoffs, but didn't because their bullpens collapsed?

Posted by: Section 506 (Before moving) | November 29, 2007 10:00 AM | Report abuse

There seems to be some nuance (cynics can feel free to call it wordplay) in Kasten's position on free-agent signings. Here's how he stated it in October:

"The big question is, how much are the Nationals willing to spend on free agents? Kasten reiterated a couple of weeks ago that the Nationals would not give outrageous amounts of money to free agents.

"'We are going to explore [free agency],' Kasten said at the ESPN Zone. 'What I learned last winter and what I foresee for this winter is that free agents are not the best use of your money and not the best way to build your team. Last year was clearly a good demonstration of that. Because of that, I continue to believe we'll have a better opportunity with trades. We will talk to all the free agents that will interest us. That is what I foresee.'"

http://mlb.mlb.com/news/article.jsp?ymd=20071105&content_id=2292926&vkey=news_was&fext=.jsp&c_id=was

Posted by: Hendo | November 29, 2007 10:08 AM | Report abuse

Four, you're talking about something like the Soriano deal, which was $10-12M (before arbitration) but that's the idea.

I liked that deal then. I still think it was a good move that only partly panned out, but a good shot to take.

You mean someone like Dontrelle (about $5M), or Delmon Young (less than that), or more in the Carl Crawford - Mike Cameron (FA but e.g.) range?

What I'm not clear on, is the "We will sign no Free Agents before their price (drops)." -- if a GM can't buy fair value on the open market, why think you can bargain-hunt in trades? (Possible answer: the Greater Fool Theory). A FA might cost you a good draft pick (a lottery ticket by definition), vs. a more-or-less known quantity in most trades. So if you get what you need, at a price you can afford, what's the difference? (See Veeck's chapter on why a player's value is relative to a given team's need, not objective based on production.)


************
Is there a near all-star making $6-8 million out there that could be had for a package of Rauch, Church, and a middle reliever (about $2 - 3 million in payroll)?

Unless this sort of trade is made, it does not seem that what they are saying and what they are doing is adding up - not the first time of course.
Posted by: #4 | November 29, 2007 09:39 AM

Posted by: cevans | November 29, 2007 10:11 AM | Report abuse

I think the false assumption may be that the Nats will only trade Major Leaugers. You can increase payroll by trading several young players in the minors. Remember the NATS have said all along that one of the reasons you need a strong farm system is to have minor league players to trade for major league ready talent. You don't want to trade them all like MLB did, but you can (and should) trade a few every so often if you can get a something helpful in return.

Another possible false assumption is that you have to give up equal talent for equal talent. Clearly you can get more talent than you give if you are willing to take on someone else's bad contract. (That's why I don't think it is impossible that we pick up someone like Gary Matthews for significantly less talent - he's overpaid and underproductive, but might still be better than what we've got.) (Just an example).

Some of the budget increase will go to players like Zimmerman. Some may be forced on us by arbitration. And I don't think Kasten said we would not sign any free agents. I think he said it was not the best way to grow a team and he would not throw big bucks at someone.

Posted by: NatBisquit | November 29, 2007 10:11 AM | Report abuse

Speaking of the Caps, I get a little bit excited every time the video screen shows "Hard Hits brought to you by the Washington Nationals." I can't decide if that makes me pathetic or not.
_________________________
(Staying OT for a minute, someone should find out who that group was that sang the anthem at the Caps game on Monday night. Scary good, they were.)

Posted by: Hendo | November 28, 2007 09:23 PM

Posted by: Scott in Shaw | November 29, 2007 10:14 AM | Report abuse

AND ... how much of this is Stan, managing expectations (downward) again? I still think this (.500) team, plus one stud starter (Prof. Vernon Simpson?), one stud outfielder (Joe Hardy?), and better than average but not Angels-in-the-Outfield luck, is a (NL) contender.

Posted by: cevans | November 29, 2007 10:20 AM | Report abuse

I think the Matthews argument was about doing what #4 is thinking about- accepting acquiring an arguably overpaid quality performer for things we have properly valued (or less overvalued). Problem with the Matthews idea is the fit between the teams is not good (and the HGH issue).

The Cordero, and to some extent Lopez, as trade bait argument is about perception of value. The franchise values Cordero highly (closer) - most outsiders do not (middle reliever prone to blow ups). I compare him to Heathcliff Slocumb, who had successful save years in Philadelphia and Boston in the mid-90s but put a lot of guys on. Cordero, to be fair, has not blown as many saves as I remember Slocumb doing. Nevertheless, Slocumb was eventually traded for a AAA catcher with a good pedigree and a sinkerballer who could not crack a contender's rotation - Jason Varitek and Derek Lowe. Maybe what Bowden is doing is waiting for a team to get desparate as those Pinella teams were. Lopez we tend to undervalue, I think, due to an off year. He may be seen outside of DC as a former all-star basestealer capable of playing multiple positions who had trouble in a pitchers park. He may have some value in trade.

There's a nice article about the "winner's curse in baseball linked below. No, it is not about what some of you wish on the Red Sox. It is about the systemmatic bias towards overbidding in auctions for items about which the bidders have imperfect information. Applied to baseball, it explains why free agents tend to disappoint and why newbie owners drive prices up. Applied to Aaron Rowand, it suggests that if you think he is a $15 million / yr player, you may want not to bid more than $12 million a year.

http://www.thediamondangle.com/archive/oct01/wincurse.html

Posted by: jon | November 29, 2007 10:21 AM | Report abuse

cevans, are we talking the original Angels or the remake? I think that I prefer the former. Also, I like Rocky because he runs into walls (I think that he was the one). hmmm, could it be time for a baseball movie discussion?

Posted by: natsfan1a | November 29, 2007 10:26 AM | Report abuse

good point jon. if a commodity is "worth what 2 people are willing to pay for it," then the buyer overpays by definition past the first dollar more, so you accept that and try to minimize it.

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It is about the systematic bias towards overbidding in auctions for items about which the bidders have imperfect information. Applied to baseball, it explains why free agents tend to disappoint and why newbie owners drive prices up...
Posted by: jon | November 29, 2007 10:21 AM

Posted by: cevans | November 29, 2007 10:28 AM | Report abuse

NatsBisquit:

That's the essential point. I think there may be someone out there who will give up more talent than they are getting to free up payroll space.

On your other point, I hope they don't trade minor leaguers. 1) it's too early to do that. 2) They would not be trading from depth. The only attractive prospects they have are starting pitchers. The are so dreadful in that area on the big league roster that it would be a mistake to trade any of those guys.

cevans: the difference between the FA market and the trade market, at least for top drawer players, is that one has to commit to 4 or 5 years of contract with the FAs. That can prove to be an albatross. In the trade market you can find guys with one or two years left on their contracts. That provides a team with more flexibility - crucial for the Nats during this period of building.

Posted by: #4 | November 29, 2007 10:28 AM | Report abuse

Definitely the 1954 original, NF1a, Danny Glover notwithstanding.

Posted by: cevans | November 29, 2007 10:30 AM | Report abuse

point taken

*****
the difference between the FA market and the trade market, at least for top drawer players, is that one has to commit to 4 or 5 years of contract with the FAs. That can prove to be an albatross. In the trade market you can find guys with one or two years left on their contracts. That provides a team with more flexibility - crucial for the Nats during this period of building.
Posted by: #4 | November 29, 2007 10:28 AM

Posted by: c | November 29, 2007 10:34 AM | Report abuse

I agree re. the original, cevans. Glover and the little kid were the best things about the remake.

---

Definitely the 1954 original, NF1a, Danny Glover notwithstanding.

Posted by: natsfan1a | November 29, 2007 11:47 AM | Report abuse

RE: trades...

People think of baseball as being a community of haves and have nots... but in fact, the Nats are in between... Not a small market team, but not ready for $100+ million in payroll.

I think the Alfonso Soriano Model is the one to look at for the Nats. Imagine where we'd be if we were just getting Soriano today... have a banner year, and then sign him to an extension, rather than let him be a free agent. There are always guys with 1-3 years on a contract that you can get, when a team thinks they can't afford them. If they get away through free agency, you get picks, or you trade them to a contender for prospects.

I think this is the best way to go about things... I bed Bowden does, too.

Posted by: Wigi | November 29, 2007 1:42 PM | Report abuse


ala Miguel Cabrerra.

________________
There are always guys with 1-3 years on a contract that you can get, when a team thinks they can't afford them. If they get away through free agency, you get picks, or you trade them to a contender for prospects.

Posted by: lowcountry | November 29, 2007 2:36 PM | Report abuse

I'm not sure Cabrera quite fits the scenario. He is making $8 million on a team that needs/wants to dump payroll. The Marlins though will want prospects for him. The Nats need a partner who will take established big leaguers.

Posted by: #4 | November 29, 2007 2:47 PM | Report abuse

That's why I'm asking:

Who almost went to the playoffs, but blew up in their bullpen.

They're the ones who will want to dump salary. No one wants to dump salary if they're winning (see, Red Sox, Yanks). Look for someone like San Diego or Los Angeles who were on the cusp. Look for weak bullpens because that's our strength.

Posted by: Section 506 (Before moving) | November 29, 2007 2:52 PM | Report abuse

plus we don't have the kind of prospects they'd want anyway. they're looking for ML ready prospects or top level first year guys (names like kendick, mathis, adenhart, wood from LAA, for example), and several of them. things the nats just don't have.

Posted by: 231 (other 506) | November 29, 2007 2:52 PM | Report abuse

Atlanta, Milwaukee, Mets, and arguably St. Louis. I don't follow the AL much and am less sure of the circumstances regarding Detroit, Seattle, LAA and Minnesota.

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Who almost went to the playoffs, but blew up in their bullpen.

Posted by: lowcountry | November 29, 2007 2:56 PM | Report abuse

"Atlanta, Milwaukee, Mets, and arguably St. Louis. I don't follow the AL much and am less sure of the circumstances regarding Detroit, Seattle, LAA and Minnesota."

Good list to start with lowcountry. I'd throw out the Mets and LAA. They don't need to dump salary. Minnesota's probably done making big trades. It's hard for a roster to absorb too much change. I'd add SD and AZ. Here are the hitters on the other teams making $8 million plus, I think. Somebody may want to check this:

1. Atlanta: C. Jones, Tiexara.
2. Milwaukee: Jenkins
3. St. Louis: Pujols, Rolen, Edmonds
4. Detroit: Ordonez, Sheffield, Irod
5. Seattle: Sexson, Beltre, Suzuki
6. Minnesota: Nobody
7. San Diego: Giles, B., Cameron
8. Arizona: Nobody

To me the best candidates on that list to be moved are Jenkins, Sexson, Sheffield, Beltre, and Cameron. I didn't consider the pitchers because I think the Nats will go for a big money hitter, but I could be wrong.

Posted by: #4 | November 29, 2007 3:48 PM | Report abuse

Who needs and can pay for what the Nats have? Some 2007 losing teams (CWS come immediately to mind) tanked, and can ill afford to stand still, but still can't afford to add much salary. They might dump one salary to pay for another they think they want more.

And I would add Phila. to the list, even though they made the playoffs, because they'll behave (I think) similarly.
_______________________
Who almost went to the playoffs, but blew up in their bullpen?

Posted by: cevans | November 29, 2007 3:59 PM | Report abuse

You're leaving off Edmonds because he's almost certainly not available?

********
To me the best candidates on that list to be moved are Jenkins, Sexson, Sheffield, Beltre, and Cameron. I didn't consider the pitchers because I think the Nats will go for a big money hitter, but I could be wrong.
Posted by: #4 | November 29, 2007 03:48 PM

Posted by: cevans | November 29, 2007 4:04 PM | Report abuse

"You're leaving off Edmonds because he's almost certainly not available?"

Or because of health worries? But for that, he'd be at or near the top of my short list of favorites to acquire.

Posted by: Hendo | November 29, 2007 4:09 PM | Report abuse

I think Edmonds is a 10/5 guy, so he'd have to approve any trade. I doubt he would want to go to the Nats.

Posted by: #4 | November 29, 2007 4:29 PM | Report abuse

I think Edmonds is a 10/5 guy, so he'd have to approve any trade. I doubt he would want to go to the Nats.

Posted by: #4 | November 29, 2007 4:37 PM | Report abuse

i'm not sure edmonds really fits what we would be looking for anyway. he's an aging star whose skills are on the downhill and would be a better fit with a team that's contending right now.

now, an SP who was in that category (aging, but still with some skills and savvy) would be a much better fit as a potential teacher for all of the young pitchers on the staff.

i think any targets we go after shouldn't be over 30 by much. especially if they have any cost in good prospects. any acquisitions that have any significant cost should be someone we would like to keep around for 3-5 years, if they work out.

this team needs a couple of years to be a true contender, one that contends regularly, at least. getting a 37 yr old position player (especially one who's had health problems) wouldn't really help us toward that goal.

Posted by: 231 (other 506) | November 29, 2007 4:41 PM | Report abuse

Barry has a new post up.

Posted by: natsfan1a | November 29, 2007 5:06 PM | Report abuse

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