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Still more Lo Duca

Well, I was ready to pack it in from the lobby - I mean, what more can be accomplished after Scott Boras and Brian Cashman share what appeared to be a warm conversation? - when Paul Lo Duca reared his head again.

Not literally, of course. But I finally ran into his agent, Andrew Mongelluzzi. He confirmed the Nationals' interest - which we had known throughout the day. The Blue Jays are obviously in, but Mongelluzzi said there may be some other things still percolating, and it's possible that one or more other teams might be involved depending on trades that develop, etc.. He expects a resolution relatively quickly - within a week or so, say - but not by the time we leave the meetings.

OK, enough of that. The lobby was abuzz with the potential of Andruw Jones signing with the Los Angeles Dodgers for two years and $36 million, a report that comes from Boras wasn't confirming it, but there's no reason to believe that's not true.

Think, then, of the blow to the NL East in the past two days. Miguel Cabrera, Dontrelle Willis and Andruw Jones are gone. Aaron Rowand is almost sure to depart as well. The Mets are worried that they haven't done enough, but they still might have the best team in the division. The Phillies added Brad Lidge and moved Brett Myers back into the rotation, but they still have holes.

In a horrendous NL, could the Nationals actually put together a decent run?

Too early to say, of course. I'll keep you up to date on the catching situation as well as any developments on Maekawa. I'll also try to corral some of the craziest stuff I've heard in a wrap-up. The Rule 5 draft begins at 10 a.m. Eastern, and Bowden said he expects to take someone - though it's not a sure bet - so we'll get you that news as quickly as possible.

By Barry Svrluga  |  December 6, 2007; 1:52 AM ET
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Next: Rule 5 Goodies



Why do we care about Maekawa? I ask that in all seriousness - I looked up his stats, and they're really unimpressive. Is there something about him we don't know? Or is he viewed as a gateway drug into Japanese baseball?


Posted by: Rob | December 6, 2007 2:01 AM | Report abuse

Sounds like Nats could have got Jones for a two year deal?

Nats could have had their CFer,a Left-hand bat/4th OF in Church and a LH C in Brian S......if only they were willing to spend the money for 2 years on Jones.

I would think the Jones CF team beats the Millidge/Dukes CF team over the next two years by a lot and we could have even been looking at winning the division in 2009 if we had only focused on Starting Pitching and Jones in CF instead of Jimbo's obsessions with troubled head cases.

Posted by: JayB | December 6, 2007 5:23 AM | Report abuse

"In a horrendous NL,"

Barry - Everything looks horrendous at 1:56 AM, especially in Opryland.

"could the Nationals actually put together a decent run?"

Get Barry some sleep. He's raving.

Posted by: flynnie | December 6, 2007 6:19 AM | Report abuse

Let's try and remember reality.

1. Jones wasn't available at that price 3 days ago. He has come back to reality.
2. He's coming off of a bad year. There is no guarantee that he isn't on the downhill slide.
3. We haven't really lost anything by trading Church.
4. In '10, when the Nats should be ready to contend for a serious run, Milledge and/or Dukes should be at the beginning of their prime. Jones will be toast.

Posted by: catcher50 | December 6, 2007 6:40 AM | Report abuse

Reality....."Jones will be toast" at the age of 33? Really? If so he would not have been our toast with a two year deal but in my mind a 30 Year old future HOF'er coming off a bad year beats a Hall of Fame Bad Person or a HOF bad attitude any day!

Posted by: JayB | December 6, 2007 6:54 AM | Report abuse

How do we know if Jones would have taken a 2-year deal from Washington? How do we know if the Nats actually offered one and were turned down so Jones could go to a team closer to contention?

As nice as it might have been for the Nationals to get Jones on a 2-year deal, we cannot immediately assume he would have agreed to same parameters with the Nats.

Posted by: Brian | December 6, 2007 7:07 AM | Report abuse

No not "know" anything (stop laughing there please and read on)...but he went to the Dodgers it seems (are they winning soon?) ....and Nats ATL history with him as well as Acta seems like something that would have helped......But I do not 'Know" anything....except given Nats obsession on not spending money, JimBo's history for lost souls and Stan's comments all fall it seems very unlikely they offered him decide which side of what happened is more likely for yourself....

Posted by: JayB | December 6, 2007 7:19 AM | Report abuse

I agree w/ Brian (two postings earlier). Furthermore, is Andruw Jones really worth the 5th highest salary in MLB? I don't think so and anybody who thinks the Nats should pay it is nuts. It'd take too large of a percentage of the payroll.

Face the reality, we don't have money to burn (like the Yankees, Red Sox, Tigers, Dodgers, and maybe a couple other teams) and we don't want to try spend like them. If we do then we end up like the Orioles. I much prefer having young players that could develop into very nice additions verse an all-star on the wrong side of 30 that wasn't even pursued by his former club.

Posted by: Tim | December 6, 2007 7:33 AM | Report abuse

I don't know, JayB has an intriguing point - I like an OF of Jones, Kearns and a Wily Mo/Church platoon or have Wily float in a 3-way, that's not half bad and more a sure thing than what we have now. Jones' signing would also give some jump to a franchise that needs it.

on the other hand, if Jones only made the Nats a decent team, the funds to get additional FA's might not be there OR - the Nats' would have to spend huge bucks and lose draft picks and be stuck.

I'm torn on this one - JayB really has me thinking - team would be better, but older, well, guess it's too late now!

Posted by: natswriter | December 6, 2007 8:11 AM | Report abuse


I'm torn about this whole Dukes pick up. I agree people should get second chances, just not on my team or around me. Is it possible to cheer for the Nats when Dukes hits a home run but not cheer for him? I'd like to find a way to do so.


Posted by: Ben | December 6, 2007 8:41 AM | Report abuse

I'll get back to you after I'm done wrestling with the double negative...


No not "know" anything (stop laughing there please and read on)...

Posted by: proofreading gremlin | December 6, 2007 8:47 AM | Report abuse

In a horrendous NL, could the Nationals actually put together a decent run?

Posted by: yes, please | December 6, 2007 8:47 AM | Report abuse

I would have liked to have Jones, but not at $18 M per year for a .222 hitter?

Andruw gets to reunite with Furcal, and make some monney.

Note: Here are the vs LHP/vs RHP splits from last year for our top 4 outfielders.

Dukes .164/.260 (+.86)
Kearns .258/.292 (+.34)
WMP .203/.330 (+.127)
Milledge .250/.317 (.67)

As a rank amateur, this says to me that WMP is a potential career platoon player. Dukes is also pretty challenged. If these trends continue then Kearns and Milledge could be by and large full time outfielders, but you would need a LH batting outfielder to play when facing RHP (which is going to be most of the time).

So where does the LH outfielder come from? And at aht price? Steve Finley anyone?

Posted by: NatBisquit | December 6, 2007 8:56 AM | Report abuse

$18 million per year for one player??? That's crazy. The Lerners can stock an entire team for that much.

Posted by: PowerBoater69 | December 6, 2007 8:57 AM | Report abuse

and at what price?

Posted by: NatBisquit | December 6, 2007 8:58 AM | Report abuse

I think there would be some advantages to Finley. How about Diory Hernandez in the Rule 5 today?

Posted by: lowcountry | December 6, 2007 9:06 AM | Report abuse

Charge $300 at seat and spend $18 Million to play sub .500 ball (or way below) for the 4th, 5th and 6th year in a row in DC! Sure looks like the current trend.

Posted by: They Just might | December 6, 2007 9:08 AM | Report abuse

I can't believe that picking kids up in the Rule 5 Draft is the only thing that Bowden will do to finish the Winter Meetings. Consider the fact that the Nats unconditionally released 2 players to get down to 36 people on the 40-man roster. There is no way they would take 4 Rule 5 draftees. I think they were clearing space for 2 more major leaguers.

Posted by: Three more months | December 6, 2007 9:20 AM | Report abuse

Jones' drop in numbers corresponds with a drop in illegal substance intake in light of the Mitchell Commission - I bet you anything. Everyone kept saying how he was playing hurt and that's why they dipped... that's SOME dip. What has he never been hurt before?

Also, signing Jones would hurt the minor leagues. "Winning is a minors affair" A signing of the vowel-challenged Andruw would rob us of draft picks and give us nothing long term in compensation. He would put more, not less, stress on our farm system while adding nothing to it. That's a losing proposition.

JayB, I understand your concern, but the Dodgers are not winning this year or any year anytime soon.

Posted by: Section 506 (Before moving) | December 6, 2007 9:20 AM | Report abuse

506 is quite perceptive. I think that we need only look at history. Jones' decline may be do to a number of factors and performance enhancing products certainly can be one of them.

We also need only look at the L.A. Dodgers' history. Virtually every year they have one or more splash signings that will lead them deep into the playoffs. Check the recent results.

Posted by: Catcher50 | December 6, 2007 9:25 AM | Report abuse

No way Nats could or should pay $18m for Jones right now. Really, he's a significant risk. He might have several more great years, he might not. $18 is insane for him. If whoever pegged that as the 5th highest salary is right, then I guarantee Jones doesn't have the 5th best season in '08 or '09. He might not have the 5th best season on the Dodgers. I'll take 22-23 years for the minimum any day and see if they pan out. '09 and '10 we can think about a big FA but even then not $18m for a guy who hit .222 and isn't wanted by his own team.

Not sure what to think about Lo Duca. I guess we basically replace Schneider (except for the defense and clubhouse leader role) for nothing and got half of Milledge for Schneider so probably a good deal, right? So could say we traded Schneider for Lo Duca and Church for Milledge. That's a good deal in my book.

Posted by: Avar | December 6, 2007 9:28 AM | Report abuse

Jones is not worth $18M per year after last year's numbers. I hate to speculate, but you always have to wonder about a steep drop off in the steroid-era. Also, you only sign him for two years and then he could be gone. Just in time for the Nats to make a serious run at the postseason.

Posted by: BT | December 6, 2007 9:37 AM | Report abuse

"A signing of the vowel-challenged Andruw would rob us of draft picks and give us nothing long term in compensation."

No, it would not have. Jones was not offered arbitration by the Braves. There would have been no pick compensation involved.

Even if he was offered arbitration, Jones was a Type B free agent meaning the team signing him would not lose any of their own picks. A pick would be created in the supplemental first round.

Posted by: Brian | December 6, 2007 9:38 AM | Report abuse

if we extend wily mo, dukes has time to prove himself worthy of sticking with the club. if he can, we have trade bait midseason. package either kearns or wily mo with one of our stud relievers for a future need.

i'm no fan of jamey carroll. i am a fan of a young catcher from arizona.

this team has so many if's but i'd love to see patterson back starting. a healthy and regular guzman and this entire lineup makes a lot of sense.

Posted by: longterm | December 6, 2007 9:42 AM | Report abuse

I was about to run off a list of reasons why I found this notion ridiculous, but I decided I should start the day on a positive note.

I was thinking the other day about how, in a best-case scenario world, the Nationals could be an interesting team. If John Patterson is completely uninjured and returns to 2005 form, if Sean Hill can stay off the DL all year, if Bergmann develops into that innings-eating fourth or fifth man in the rotation we all hope he could be...

If Nick Johnson is 100% in Spring Training, if Lopez comes to Florida with something to prove, if WMP can be as good as Bowden thinks he can be, if Young can be an effective mentor for Dukes, if Flores can handle starting 100-120 games, if Milledge...

It's a long list of things that have to go right, but you can see how if even just a few of these things happen, the Nats are a better team next year.


In a horrendous NL, could the Nationals actually put together a decent run?

Posted by: John in Mpls | December 6, 2007 9:51 AM | Report abuse


Does this tidbit at the end of Dave's column today mean the Post will let you vote in 2013 for Rookie of the Year, MVP, etc? Well, if you're still in DC (we can hope).

The Baseball Writers' Association of America, which oversees the sport's major awards, voted Wednesday to eliminate from the ballots any players whose contracts include incentive clauses tied to award voting. Alex Rodriguez, for example, earned a $1.5 million bonus from the New York Yankees for winning AL most valuable player this year. The move would take effect in 2013.

Posted by: Vote? | December 6, 2007 9:54 AM | Report abuse

even that photo of lo duca on the nats page is making me mad. lo duca would be an exception to previous request not to boo first timer nats.

Posted by: longterm | December 6, 2007 10:08 AM | Report abuse

Buck Martinez said on XM Radio a few weeks ago that Jones would never sign with the Nats because "the Nats are not going to be in contention for awhile."

Posted by: swanni | December 6, 2007 10:11 AM | Report abuse

Rule 5 Nats take Matt Whitney:

A year ago this month, Indians infielder Matt Whitney looked like a colossal bust. The 33rd overall pick in the 2002 draft, who missed all of the 2003 season after breaking his left leg in a spring training basketball mishap, was winding down a 2006 season for high Class A Kinston in which he hit just .206 and endured a painful 0-for-44 slump.

This season, though, the 23-year-old has looked like a player worthy of his draft position. A third baseman his whole career, Whitney broke camp with low Class A Lake County to learn first base and work on his swing. He hit .308/.377/.542 with 16 homers and 64 RBIs in 71 games before a promotion to Kinston in late June, and he's only picked up steam.

In his second tour of the Carolina League, Whitney has hit .293/.343/.576 with 14 homers and 43 RBIs through 47 games. To give his turnaround some perspective, consider that it took Whitney 96 games to hit 10 homers and drive in 39 runs for Kinston last season.

With 30 homers between two stops this season, Whitney, who credits Lake County hitting coach Jim Rickon and Kinston hitting coach Jon Nunnally with helping him get back on track, is tied for seventh among all minor leaguers. With 107 RBIs, he is five off the minor league lead.

"he suffered a fractured tibia and fibula in the spring of 2003 when he stepped on a sprinkler head while retrieving the ball during a pickup basketball game. The long road back--55 games in 2004, 74 in 2005 and 96 in 2006--left him with a .238/.325/.385 career minor league average.

The 23-year-old played in 128 games this season, batted a combined .299/.364/.545 with 32 home runs for low Class A Lake County and high Class A Kinston."

Posted by: longterm | December 6, 2007 10:32 AM | Report abuse

another pick...

Garrett Guzman, of, Twins

Guzman missed the entire 2005 season after breaking his neck in a car accident just days before leaving for spring training that year. Now 25, the undersized lefthanded hitter profiles as arguably the best fourth outfielder candidate on the Rule 5 eligible list, drawing comparisons to Orlando Palmeiro. While Palmeiro was a bit better runner and defender, Guzman offers more power and offensive upside. Guzman, who batted .312/.359/.453 at Double-A New Britain in 2007, has solid gap power and the ability to play anywhere in the outfield, though he profiles best in left. "He probably doesn't run as well (as Palmeiro) but they're very similar players who can do a lot of things for you," said one National League scout.

Posted by: longterm | December 6, 2007 10:38 AM | Report abuse

So... another first baseman with a broken leg. Awesome, JimBo, awesome.

Posted by: Section 506 (Before moving) | December 6, 2007 10:38 AM | Report abuse

i remember seeing guzman on the list i posted a few days ago of potential rule 5 guys and thinking he seemed interesting as a bench guy. especially the LH part.

Posted by: 231 (other 506) | December 6, 2007 10:42 AM | Report abuse

Hey, 506 - Was it the same leg? Maybe they could platoon legs?

Posted by: Nats surgeons | December 6, 2007 10:50 AM | Report abuse

Can we Rule 5 Lake County hitting coach Jim Rickon and Kinston hitting coach Jon Nunnally?

Posted by: John in Mpls | December 6, 2007 11:00 AM | Report abuse

C'mon folks. Rule 5 guys are huge risks. Jesus Flores comes around about once every 10-15 years for an organization. There are available exactly because of strange circumstances like these. Albert Pujols is generally not on the short list for Rule 5.

Posted by: #4 | December 6, 2007 11:35 AM | Report abuse

Kinda like a three-legged race?


Hey, 506 - Was it the same leg? Maybe they could platoon legs?

Posted by: Anonymous | December 6, 2007 12:58 PM | Report abuse

Why is Nook out of the picture? I love the Nook. He really seemed to figure out how to hit toward the end of the year and finally understood how effective the bunt is for him - and his speed alone can win a game or manufacture a run and also allows him to play a strong CF. Nook is my fifth OF over Langherhans or the new Guzman.

Posted by: Nathead | December 6, 2007 1:51 PM | Report abuse


Posted by: MadNatter | December 6, 2007 1:55 PM | Report abuse

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