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Pre-Holiday Cleaning

Let's get to some housekeeping here.

Over the past week, the Nationals have continued to fill out their roster. New additions Pete Orr, the reserve infielder from the Braves, and reliever Ray "This Year's Mike Stanton" King were officially added on Saturday, though they were both signed to minor-league deals. The 40-man roster remains full.

Go back and look at this roster breakdown, and it's clear the Nationals are filling up spots. It's also clear that they have the depth to maneuver pieces if they want. They could trade an infielder (Felipe Lopez?), an outfielder (pick one), a bullpen arm (pick one) and still have enough pieces to reasonably fill in.

Why do I keep picking Lopez? Because when I made out a lineup last week in the Journal - and one that actually ran in the paper - someone from the club e-mailed me and said that Belliard, not Lopez, should be listed as the starting second baseman. That could be to light a fire under Lopez, or it could be because they genuinely want to line up that way, or because they figure Lopez will be gone by spring training anyway.

This much is clear: The Nationals' middle infield, while crowded now, has no pieces in place for 2010. Guzman and Lopez are free agents after this year. Belliard is a free agent after 2009 - and while a valuable piece of the current club, can't be considered a piece of the future.

The more I think about it, the more we talked about the potential discussions the club had for people like Khalil Greene and Brian Roberts, the more it wouldn't shock me if a big deal for the Nationals involved a 20-something shortstop or second baseman.

Also: The pursuit of one (1) veteran starter also makes sense.

One other minor thing: Nats brought back Mike O'Connor on a minor league deal. They had "non-tendered" him to move him off the 40-man roster last week, so he gets another shot. I hope he's healthy this year.

Other housekeeping: Had a note in Saturday's paper confirming the opener for Nationals Park - Sunday night, March 30, against the Atlanta Braves. Hopefully this gets announced in the next couple days and the club can finally release its entire schedule as official. There's still nothing on the Web site, and the only version that's out there is the one sent to season-ticket holders.


By Barry Svrluga  |  December 17, 2007; 11:33 AM ET
 
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Comments

What happened to Micah Bowie? He played many roles last year and never was a total disaster. Seems like he could still be a valuable puzzle piece. I must have missed something explaining his fate.

Posted by: Sec 314 formerly 515 | December 17, 2007 11:59 AM | Report abuse

i agree that there are likely a couple of deals in the works here. there are too many parts right now and not enough room on the roster.

very interesting, tho, that someone from the club wanted you to know that lopez shouldn't be listed as a starter. wonder if anyone's told him that.

Posted by: 231 (other 506) | December 17, 2007 12:02 PM | Report abuse

Bowie was outrighted to the minors and refused assignment, thus becoming a minor-league free agent. This is pretty standard, so he may still get re-signed to a minor league contract.

Posted by: Section 506 (Before moving) | December 17, 2007 12:03 PM | Report abuse

Predict they will trade Lopez, which is a good move. I'm convinced Belliard is equal offensively, maybe not quite as strong defensively at 2b but after '07, think Belliard is much more likely to have an average or above average career for himself at the plate and Lopez seems to be a drag on the clubhouse.

Hard to picture them getting anything but prospects for him, can't see a solid starting pitcher for him.

Will be really surprised if they trade anyone else currently expected to be on the 25 man.

Posted by: Avar | December 17, 2007 12:03 PM | Report abuse

So I am not the only one who gets crazy when you put Lopez in your starting lineup eh Barry? Glad to hear the Nats see the same things I do!

Honestly, we both watched a lot Nats baseball last year....don't you agree that Belliard is a far better choice for this team then Lopez? Why do you keep wanting to start him in your lineups?

Posted by: JayB | December 17, 2007 12:07 PM | Report abuse

Belliard thoroughtly outplayed Lopez last season, in every possible way. He's earned the nod.

Posted by: tomterp | December 17, 2007 12:09 PM | Report abuse

506,
correcting you from the previous post. Belliard's flip didn't make the double play, just the one out at second.

I know because I've watched it oh, maybe a couple hundred times.

:)

Posted by: NatsNut | December 17, 2007 12:10 PM | Report abuse

JayB, I think Barry's been putting him in the starting lineup because all along, the team has always stated that it acquired Lopez to be the starting 2B to Guzman's starting SS. Similarly, the main and stated reason for acquiring Belliard was so that we would have a quality backup 2B. He was neither acquired nor extended with the stated intent that he serve as the starter.

Because Barry is a reporter and not a columnist interjecting hiw own opinion, his proposed lineups are simply reflections of what the team has indicated that it will do with its players to this point, not where Barry thinks each would be best suited. Until this last revelation that Belliard should be listed as the starting 2B, the team had always maintained that the job was Felipe's... thus, Barry reported that fact and listed him there.

Posted by: faNATic | December 17, 2007 12:13 PM | Report abuse

even with all of the signings, i'm still concerned that if they trade lopez, there's no legit backup at SS. just a glut of utility guys who probably haven't played 25 games combined at SS in the past 3-4 years. it's not like guzman hasn't missed most of the past two seasons with injuries.

Posted by: 231 (other 506) | December 17, 2007 12:13 PM | Report abuse

"hiw" = "his" in the previous post. sorry about that.

Posted by: faNATic | December 17, 2007 12:13 PM | Report abuse

I also sense that this is the beginning of the move of Zim to SS in 2009 or sooner if needed.

Posted by: JayB | December 17, 2007 12:17 PM | Report abuse

i would be unbelievably shocked if they moved zimmerman to SS.

Posted by: 231 (other 506) | December 17, 2007 12:22 PM | Report abuse

Zim at short and Chris Marrero at third makes some sense, though moving perhaps the best fielding third baseman today to another position - one he acknowledges isn't his best - is a tough move.

Hopefully, Marrero makes the transition to first and all remains well at third.

Posted by: The Beltway Boy | December 17, 2007 12:25 PM | Report abuse

me too.

...on the other hand, being shocked by FO moves isn't so shocking anymore.
____________
i would be unbelievably shocked if they moved zimmerman to SS.

Posted by: 231 (other 506) | December 17, 2007 12:22 PM

Posted by: NatsNut | December 17, 2007 12:28 PM | Report abuse

Zimmerman is NOT moving to shortstop. He is not Cal Ripken and Acta is not Earl Weaver. They would risk losing Zimmerman to free agency if they tried. Rumor has it he has told the Nats so.

I like the minor signings. I still think we have to sign/acquire another catcher. I love Flores and am convinced he will play this year, but with Lo Duca needing to play 120 games (105 if suspended) I think they will want Flores to start in the minors.

I read in the other virtual fish wrap that two "club officials" said they had no idea Lo Duca was on the list before they signed him.

Posted by: NatBisquit | December 17, 2007 12:33 PM | Report abuse

I know I'm once again against popular opinion but I would keep Lopez, at least for now. If you trade Lopez now you will be selling low. He looked horrible with the Reds in his first couple of years and then blossomed into an all star. I'd give him another year to see if he gets better as he gets more comfortable here. If not, you can trade him or keep him as a utility guy that can play both middle IF positions.

I would get rid of Guzman -- always injured and was awful the year he played. Assuming you could get anything for him (which I doubt.)

Posted by: Ray | December 17, 2007 12:34 PM | Report abuse

Ray, your selling-low logic also works strongly against getting rid of Guzman right now. His injury this past year means there would be little return on whatever we do with him.

In addition, you're ignoring the fact that he was absolutely terrific for the first several months of the 2007 before his freak injury (I still can't believe he went up to bat again with basically no thumb). As I've stated before, I think he gets another shot at it this year because of his performance while he was uninjured in 2007. Additionally, for whatever reason, his batting eye seemed to have significantly improved this year compared to 2005; most people seem to attribute this to his laser-eye surgery and being able to better see the ball. If this holds up, then lets ride it as long as we can.

Posted by: faNATic | December 17, 2007 12:43 PM | Report abuse

marrero at 3B doesn't make much sense to me. from what i've read, supposedly his defensive skill makes even 1B a bit of a stretch. even with braun's monster offensive numbers, the brewers are looking to move him off the hot corner where he won't kill their defense.

better to let him work his way up at 1B where he can do less damage to the infield defense instead of putting zimmerman out of position (and where he doesn't want to be) and look for a SS to play in 09 and beyond instead of a 1B for 2010 and beyond.

Posted by: 231 (other 506) | December 17, 2007 12:49 PM | Report abuse

I agree with Ray, actually. Keep Lopez and Guzman both for the first half of '08 and when their numbers improve - as they must - then trade them to a contender (or keep them as a contender).

Posted by: Section 506 (Before moving) | December 17, 2007 1:20 PM | Report abuse

A veteran pitcher... hmm, I'm having visions of Livan Hernandez throwing the first pitch at Nats Park...

So, yeah, I could do with a year of Livo. Now let's get real, and decide which (if any) of the following will be a stumbling block:

(a) He'll take the Snakes to arbitration
(b) He'll squeeze more money out of Minaya than he would out of Bowden
(c) He'll be perceived as having run out of gas
(d) The Nats FO will already have set their sights elsewhere

What think?

Posted by: Hendo | December 17, 2007 2:03 PM | Report abuse

Hendo -
I agree. As much as I'd enjoy watching the new, slimmer Livan I don't think it's a likely scenario.

Of course, predicting what won't happen is always easier than predicting what will happen. ;)

Posted by: i hate walks | December 17, 2007 2:07 PM | Report abuse

Webb, Haren, Davis, Johnson (if he is healthy), and Owings.

Why would Arizona even consider Livan, unless Johnson is not expected back? Doesn't seem like he'd be in a strong bargaining position there.

I'd like to see him back here, too, but he's not the top starter if that happens.

Posted by: CE | December 17, 2007 2:13 PM | Report abuse

Is this forum not more or less a column? What do you say, Barry?

*********
Because Barry is a reporter and not a columnist interjecting his own opinion ...
Posted by: faNATic | December 17, 2007 12:13 PM

Posted by: CE | December 17, 2007 2:19 PM | Report abuse

"Is this forum not more or less a column?"

My guess is that the Washington Post editor's office loses sleep over this. The WashingtonPost.com editor's office, however, sleeps like a baby knowing how many hits it gets.

Posted by: Section 506 (Before moving) | December 17, 2007 2:26 PM | Report abuse

i'd say it's a blog. :P

which means it has a bit more "opinion" than barry's normal stuff, but it's not the same as a full-blown column because it's not pure a opinion piece, like say a boswell/wise column would be. it's more of a casual conversation with readers, where he can give more depth than he could in print and even respond to some of the comments occasionally.

or at least that's how i see it. no idea how barry himself views it.

Posted by: 231 (other 506) | December 17, 2007 2:49 PM | Report abuse

Barry, Why futz around? Let's wrap this up with a bow and put Bedard and Roberts in the same package under the same tree--so much neater that way. Gives us the pitcher and middle infielder to compete for the wild card next year and grow in '09. We trade Lopez, Dukes, Chico, Balester and Willems. Change the names to suit yourself, but our lineup is Roberts, Milledge, NickJ, Zimmerman, Kearns, Wily Mo, Lo Duca, Guzman. Our rotation is Bedard, Hill, Bergman, Redding, Patterson or Lannan.

Posted by: Julia's Dad | December 17, 2007 2:51 PM | Report abuse

J's Pop, what makes you think B'more would take a ss with an attitude coming off a down year, a guy who might be in Folsom by March 30, a second-year RHP who didn't win 10 games, and two prospects, for two proven starters?

Posted by: CE | December 17, 2007 3:03 PM | Report abuse

"Bedard and Roberts ... Lopez, Dukes, Chico, Balester and Willems"

Is this April Fool's Day?

Posted by: Andy MacPhail | December 17, 2007 3:12 PM | Report abuse

That's all the two of us are worth to you? I'll bet MacPhail could get more for just me from another team.

Posted by: Eric Bedard | December 17, 2007 4:02 PM | Report abuse

Eric Bedard wrote:

"That's all the two of us are worth to you? I'll bet MacPhail could get more for just me from another team."

Perhaps, but I still make television revenues on you if you play in DC. Plus, we wouldn't be the Orioles if we didn't make terrible personnel decisions.

Posted by: Generalisimo of MASN | December 17, 2007 5:02 PM | Report abuse

Yes, but Generalissimo usually makes different mistakes than undervaluing his players in trade. He usually only undervalues them when attempting to negotiate new contracts, letting them "test the FA waters" to find their true value (see: Mussina, Mike and Palmiero, Raffy [first time with the team]). And then, after he screws that up and they sign elsewhere, he panics and overpays the wrong players (see: Belle, Albert).

Or he nixes trades that his baseball people want to make, making teams gunshy to even negotiate trades with them, wondering if the GM even has the authority to make the deal.

Or he nixes free agent pickups they want to make.

But he never undervalues his own players when trying to trade them.

Posted by: Eric Bedard | December 17, 2007 5:13 PM | Report abuse

Hey guys, looks like I'll fit right in. I also enjoy impersonating other people.

Posted by: Lastings Milledge | December 17, 2007 5:50 PM | Report abuse

Re (over?)valuation, check out the Rays' pickup of ex-'Spo Cliff Floyd. Who needs Chuck LaMar?

Posted by: Hendo | December 17, 2007 6:02 PM | Report abuse

Or just what the A's got for Haren+ ...

Posted by: Anonymous | December 17, 2007 6:07 PM | Report abuse

don't really get the rays' fascination with floyd. he's often injured (only played more than 113 games once since 2002, losing power, lost speed, defensive liability now... and they're deep at the OF position, even after trading dukes and young. he's basically jonny gomes, maybe not as bad defensively, but 8 yrs older.

didn't see what they paid, but it's probably too much.

so who sits in their OF now? not gonna be crawford or upton. baldelli or gomes is on the bench (or additional trade bait).

Posted by: 231 (other 506) | December 17, 2007 6:12 PM | Report abuse

Think the figure for Floyd was $2.75M for one year, plus incentives, with an option.

Baldelli will be the Rays' everyday DH at best.

Absent Delmon Young, and Baldelli's hammy being what it is, the Rays aren't that deep in the outfield.

The Floyd deal may not be the dumbest in history, but the Rays need to pray their pitching comes through in '08. They might try to depend on Crawford, Floyd, Pena, and Upton to slug them out of the cellar, but that kind of plan didn't work so well this season.

Posted by: Hendo | December 17, 2007 6:27 PM | Report abuse

Andy, Thanks for getting back to me. I know we are being overly gracious but I think that Brian Roberts needs a change of scenery and the good folks of Washington will be a lot more forgiving. Our drug laws are more lax and he will do much better here. Besides, Peter Angelos deserves all the help we can give him. We love him down here and know he needs our support in his old age. Let me know how we can get this deal done. Do it for Brian and Pete.

Posted by: Julia's Dad | December 17, 2007 6:34 PM | Report abuse

Stick to your day job.

Posted by: Andy MacPhail | December 17, 2007 7:57 PM | Report abuse

There is something about the math here that doesn't make sense to me. The Nats have way too many bench players. Will they simply send some of them to AAA? I can't believe that some of those guys signed with the understanding they'd be sent down.

From there it seems that Felipe is the guy who will go. However I agree that if they trade him, they need to add someone else who can play short. Therefore they'll still have a glut. I have to believe that it'll be Lopez and another position player or maybe Belliard and a reliever for a #3 or #4 starter. I'm sensing that they are not going to add a "name" middle infielder. It's what they need down the road, but maybe JimBo's thinking that this positions the team best to be competitive this year.

Posted by: #4 | December 17, 2007 8:01 PM | Report abuse

There is something about the math here that doesn't make sense to me. The Nats have way too many bench players. Will they simply send some of them to AAA? I can't believe that some of those guys signed with the understanding they'd be sent down.

From there it seems that Felipe is the guy who will go. However I agree that if they trade him, they need to add someone else who can play short. Therefore they'll still have a glut. I have to believe that it'll be Lopez and another position player or maybe Belliard and a reliever for a #3 or #4 starter. I'm sensing that they are not going to add a "name" middle infielder. It's what they need down the road, but maybe JimBo's thinking that this positions the team best to be competitive this year.

Posted by: #4 | December 17, 2007 8:04 PM | Report abuse

http://blogs.tampabay.com/breakingnews/2007/12/another-injunct.html

Posted by: Well, that was fast | December 17, 2007 9:41 PM | Report abuse

See Barry's new post in that regard.

---

Well, that was fast

Posted by: natsfan1a | December 17, 2007 10:36 PM | Report abuse

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