Network News

X My Profile
View More Activity
On Twitter: AdamKilgoreWP and PostSports  |  Facebook  |  E-mail alerts: Sports and Redskins  |  RSS

2008 Payroll: What does it mean?

Much has been made about the, shall we say, frugality with which the Nationals have approached the past two offseasons. While there's still room out there to sign a veteran pitcher - Livan Hernandez? Jason Jennings? Jon Lieber? - it's clear the Nats aren't going to go haywire in the free agent market, or what's left of it. No surprise. Stan Kasten, from the day he arrived, said he doesn't believe that's the best way to build a team, and they've gone about it the way they said they would from the start - building the scouting and player development departments (best draft by Baseball America in 2007), making trades (Chico/Mock, Milledge, Dukes, etc.) and filling in with free agents (Lo Duca).

But when Opening Day arrives, public perception of a team's commitment to winning somehow gets tied to the player payroll. That's not entirely fair, but it is realistic. Kasten, who doesn't like to talk about total payroll because he thinks it is widely misunderstood, nevertheless understands that perception. He said last May that, when the Lerners' took over in July 2006, he counseled them on the public reaction to cutting payroll. "They're going to call you cheap," Kasten said he told his bosses. "They'll probably call you cheap bastards."

Which brings us to this offseason. On Opening Day 2007, the Nationals had a $37.3 million payroll. This of course increases as you call up players from the minors, who then get paid major league salaries while replacing players on the disabled list, who still earn their big league money, so it's only a data point on what the Nationals spent for the season. But on Opening Day, Washington's total was higher than only Florida and Tampa Bay.

Has their position changed? Let's tally up the salary commitments for 2008, followed by arbitration estimates and renewal estimates. And I caution: Don't read into this that the Nationals are done moving, and don't take these ESTIMATES as fact. This also doesn't take into account any performance incentives. The only hard numbers are those in the "under contract" section.

Under contract for 2008 (with future commitments in parentheses):
Nick Johnson -- $5.5 million (plus $5.5 million in '09)
Austin Kearns -- $5 million (plus $8 million in '09, plus $10 million club option/$1 million buyout in '10)
Paul Lo Duca -- $5 million
Dmitri Young -- $5 million (plus $5 million in '09, and vesting option of $6 million in '10)
Cristian Guzman -- $4.2 million
Wily Mo Pena -- $2 million (plus $5 million club option in '09, $2 million player option)
Luis Ayala -- $1.7 million
Ronnie Belliard -- $1.6 million (plus $1.9 million in '09)
Rob Mackowiak -- $1.5 million
Jesus Colome -- $1.25 million
Aaron Boone -- $1 million
John Patterson -- $850,000
Ray King -- $850,000 (if he makes the club)
Willie Harris -- $800,000
Ryan Wagner -- $450,000
Total for '08: $36.7 million

Arbitration-eligible:
Chad Cordero -- made $4.15 million; could make $6 million?
Felipe Lopez -- made $3.9 million; could make $5 million?
Jon Rauch -- made $455,000; could make $1.5 million?
Tim Redding -- hard to say; lets put him down at $750,000?
Total estimate: $13.25 million?

Under club control: (major league minimum salary increases from $380,000 in 2007 to $390,000 in '08, and the club is under no obligation to pay more than that, though teams typically give raises for service time and contributions)
Ryan Zimmerman - Maybe $450,000 (made $400,000 in 2007)
Lastings Milledge - Maybe $395-$400,000 (made $383,000 in 2007)
Jason Bergmann, Matt Chico, Elijah Dukes, Jesus Flores, Shawn Hill, Saul Rivera - all made minimum $380,000 in 2007; let's put them at $395,000 apiece (though it could be more, could be less)
Total estimate: $3.22 million?

Grand total (reminder - crude estimate!): $53.17 million

That total, on Opening Day 2007, would have ranked 26th in baseball, just behind Colorado (NL wild-card and eventual pennant winner) and just ahead of Arizona (NL West champ).

Yes, I know there are 27 players represented here, and that the Opening Day roster will only have 25 men on it, and there are some names not here (Tyler Clippard, Chris Schroder, Ryan Langerhans, etc.) who may very well make the team out of spring training. Keep in mind, too, that over the course of the season, the Nats - like every other team - will call up a slew of players from the minors, thus bumping up their Opening Day payroll anyway.

Now, at some point over the course of this season - perhaps by the July 31 trade deadline, or perhaps by the offseason - Kasten wants to go from being a "seller" to being a "buyer" for major league ready talent that will contribute to a championship-caliber team. Read in part: He'll be willing to spend more on payroll.

Here, then, are the eight playoff teams from a year ago, ranked by Opening Day payroll:
New York Yankees -- $189.6 million (1)
Boston Red Sox -- $143 million (2)
Los Angeles Angels -- $109.3 million (4)
Chicago Cubs -- $99.7 million (8)
Philadelphia Phillies -- $89.4 million (13)
Cleveland Indians -- $61.7 million (23)
Colorado Rockies -- $54.4 million (25)
Arizona Diamondbacks -- $52.1 million (26)

Clearly, teams that build smartly can win without breaking the bank. Eight teams with Opening Day payrolls of more than $90 million didn't make the 2007 playoffs (Mets, White Sox, Dodgers, Mariners, Tigers, Orioles, Cardinals, Giants), so spending money doesn't guarantee anything, either.

So the question: How much does player payroll in a given year represent a commitment to winning?


By Barry Svrluga  |  January 7, 2008; 2:15 PM ET
 
Save & Share:  Send E-mail   Facebook   Twitter   Digg   Yahoo Buzz   Del.icio.us   StumbleUpon   Technorati   Google Buzz   Previous: Ayala update
Next: 36 Days -- and Counting!

Comments

Hey, I've never called them "cheap bastards!" I resent that!

Now, I may have called them "cheap." And I may have called them "bastards." But never "cheap bastards!"

I demand an apology.

Posted by: Chris | January 7, 2008 2:43 PM | Report abuse

Well, for the prices they are charging for fans to see the team in the new park, what the Nationals are doing is pathetic. The revenue they are projected to make with the new ballpark should be re-invested in the team - no excuses.

Posted by: Fair and Balanced | January 7, 2008 2:46 PM | Report abuse

Barry,

I hope you are still going to put up a Post "how the sausage is made"/coverage thread like you said you would last Fall. The underlying issue of the paper's coverage keeps bubbling up in the comments, as I'm sure you've seen. I hope we will get your take on it all some time soon. Thanks, happy New Year!

Posted by: Coverage is lacking | January 7, 2008 2:46 PM | Report abuse

Great piece. I would say that payroll is only a committment to winning if a team is clearly turning down the chance to add players. in this free agent market, though, you cant blame teams for not paying Carlos Silva $60M or Torri Hunter $100M. This is one of those years where NOT SPENDING may be a better committment to winning.

FYI...check out this piece on Young/Dukes. Pretty cool...
http://mlbfleecefactor.com/2008/01/07/da-meat-hook-hoping-to-turn-dukes-deal-into-a-fleece-for-the-nats/

Posted by: Ed | January 7, 2008 2:51 PM | Report abuse

fair and balanced, to be fair (pun intended), do you actually know where that extra money is going? i mean, salaries are only part of what it costs to run a team. and do you know what the actual revenue prediction is for next year vs what they're expected to spend in expenses (including salaries as well as the minors, scouting, foreign development, additional stadium funding, etc)?

and hence the issue of "perspective" as far as defining "commitment to winning."

i can't say if they're spending all of their revenues or not, i don't know. but i think the point barry is getting as is how easy it is to perceive payroll as the be all and end all.

now, personal perspective, i'm not worried about it this year. as long as they don't avoid making any reasonable improvement to the roster with an eye to the future (09/10, in my opinion) purely because they don't want to increase payroll, i'm ok this year. and i haven't seen any reasonable opportunities that have been avoided by the FO yet this offseason (and the key to me is reasonable, i.e., i don't see hunter's contract as reasonable for this team based on current skill, skill at the end of the contract, and the contract value).

but as the trade deadline and next offseason approach, i will expect the team to make that stronger commitment you mentioned in the article toward more major league ready players to fill in the gaps as the new pieces in the minors begin to get called up. places like middle infield, where we are barren.

Posted by: 231 (other 506) | January 7, 2008 2:53 PM | Report abuse

"We do the hokey pokey and we turn ourselves around, that's what it's all about."

1 red cent

They're hiring good people to run things. They're putting they're money in scouting and the minors, although they better play Zimmerman or there goes the face! Some times intangibles rate higher then cold hard cash. Let them make money this year to recoup new stadium outlays. Next year!!! Oh yes, baby, next year the thumb screws come out, eh...

Posted by: NiceNat | January 7, 2008 2:59 PM | Report abuse

Oh, no. This post is gonna unleash all the angry commenters who didn't get the 15 free agents (whoever they were) they felt entitled to this year.

All I want to see is a willingness to spend when it's truly going to help and when it truly makes sense (see scouting department). If it looks like a *bad* decision was made solely for the purpose of saving money, yea, I'll start calling 'em cheap bastards.

But so far they have me convinced that they are wise spenders. I would have been excited had they jacked up payroll with shiny free agents this off-season, but they gave sound enough reasons for not doing so, and I'm okay with that. I certainly don't doubt they want to win, for goodness sake.

Besides, you just made the case yourself, Barry, that high payrolls don't mean a commitment to winning. But I think spending the money when it's wise does.

I was going to throw in a little comment on the marketing, but didn't want to open another can of worms. Let's hash out Barry's can of worms first. :)

Posted by: NatsNut | January 7, 2008 3:07 PM | Report abuse

I would like to see more money put into a long-term contract for Zimmerman, although they are not required to do so yet.

Beyond that, though, try to remember what it meant to bring in Esteban Loaiza in 2005. That extra, healthy, veteran pitcher helped the Nats have a very exciting season, and it was disappointing that they ended no better than at .500.

The fans have been patient, and deserve to have a little more to hope for this year. The team should take some of the savings from last year, when they had a truly low salary, and apply them to this year's team. Even if it is a stop-gap maneuver like signing Paul Lo Duca, it is an expenditure meant to make the team better while another player in the farm system gets ready to make the jump to the big club.

Posted by: Five more weeks | January 7, 2008 3:11 PM | Report abuse

"How much does player payroll in a given year represent a commitment to winning?"

Considering the commitment DC has shown to bring the Nats to town, a payroll of less than the league median shows that Lerner is more committed to making a profit than winning.

Posted by: PowerBoater69 | January 7, 2008 3:18 PM | Report abuse

so, pb, you view "payroll alone" as the definition of commitment?

Posted by: 231 (other 506) | January 7, 2008 3:29 PM | Report abuse

A) No it doesn't. Clearly, the median salary has no relationship to winning.
B) Winning isn't the point, being entertaining is. They need to be competitive to do that, I believe, and have to win games to do that, but they don't need to win pennants to be worth watching.
Not that I'd mind if they do win.
C) What's wrong with making a profit? This is *not* a public utility. They're a business, it's their job. Every player on the field is making a profit.

********
"How much does player payroll in a given year represent a commitment to winning?"
Considering the commitment DC has shown to bring the Nats to town, a payroll of less than the league median shows that Lerner is more committed to making a profit than winning.
Posted by: PowerBoater69 | January 7, 2008 03:18 PM

Posted by: CE | January 7, 2008 3:33 PM | Report abuse

What I *would* like to see plowed back in is the concessions profit. Hike the payroll for the ushers, get some free agent beer vendors, draft some proven college cooking talent.

Seriously, why should the team be the only one down for this?

Posted by: CE | January 7, 2008 3:38 PM | Report abuse

Interesting. Money does not buy you a ring (see Yankees) but it can help put a winning team on the field year after year (see Royals or Pirates).

Let me start by saying that I support what the Nats are doing and feel it will all be worth it by 2010 (maybe '09). The problem I do have with this system is getting to know the players. With three seasons in the books, and only 4-5 players (???) still here from opening day 2005(Cordaro, Rauch, Ayala, Johnson, and Guzman), it is hard to get attached to this team. Yes, Zimmerman should be here for the long term, but who else? Who on this roster is going to be here in 2010 when the Nats make a playoff run? I at least expected Schneider to be here, but now he is gone.

I do not agree with paying Torri Hunter, or any other player for that matter, $100M, but it would be nice to know a player would be here for more then two seasons. It would be nice to know a few of these players would be here for some time and become part of this area.

Just my opinion/rant.

Posted by: ChrisC | January 7, 2008 3:38 PM | Report abuse

so, pb, you view "payroll alone" as the definition of commitment?

---

"Payroll alone" is not a quote from my post. I would not say that payroll is the only measure of ownership commitment to fielding a winning team, but it is the most easily quantified.

Posted by: PB69 | January 7, 2008 3:42 PM | Report abuse

That feels so much closer than one and one half more months. Yay!! :)

---

Five more weeks

Posted by: natsfan1a | January 7, 2008 3:45 PM | Report abuse

"Winning isn't the point, being entertaining is."

---

While I have followed this team closely all season for three seasons, I have found that my entertainment level dropped significantly the past two years when they fell out of the pennent race by June.

Posted by: PB69 | January 7, 2008 3:47 PM | Report abuse

Amen to that, and to the idea of extending a long-term contract to the Z-man.

---

It would be nice to know a few of these players would be here for some time and become part of this area.

Posted by: natsfan1a | January 7, 2008 3:48 PM | Report abuse

I find this debate frustrating.

Forget about payroll for a second (at least, forget about the numbers). When it comes to personnel, what do you want on your team? "The Plan" has pretty much stated that what they want is young talent that is at the beginning, rather than the end of their MLB life curve. The Nats really don't care what the source of that talent is, except that young, talented players (also known as prospects) are tough to acquire on the trade market, without paying through the nose... not to mention that you're trading for potential, and not performance. The alternative is to build and develop a farm system that is strong in scouting and strong in player development. The Nats have certainly made strides in this area, and not without some investment on their part.

The subtext of "The Plan" is that the Nats want players that blossom into greatness in a Nats uniform, rather than in someone else's uniform, and then have the Nats acquire them through free agency ot trade. What that means is that the Nats are trying to acquire and develop players that are between 24 and 29 years old, who have just a few seasons of MLB experience. Those players, by definition, are inexpensive in a payroll sense.

If you made Ryan Zimmerman a free agent today, what would he command in the marketplace? Some huge, outlandish, Soriano-esque price. And he'd be worth it, because he's young, and so a 10 year, $150 million contract would be a bargain for Zimmerman.

The point is, the magnitude of the payroll does not reflect what the team will do, but rather what the individuals on the team HAVE DONE in the past... and that doesn't win World Series.

The Nats aren't cheap. Cheap means dumping players with large contracts in order to move much less expensive players into the lineup. What the Nats have done is dump players that are not going to produce for the Nats, and acquire talented young players to take their place. Sure that has the effect of reducing payroll... But so what? As a fan, I would rather see the Nats get their money's worth, especially since it was once my money that is now paying those salaries. Low payroll and low performance isn't in anyone's interest. Just ask the Marlins.

Of course, you will always have a few veterans on the roster, and they will, by definition, be more expensive. The philosophy of the Yankees and Red Sox of the world is to acquire proven players through free agency, and while that may be a legitimate strategy for creating a winning team, it clearly insn't the only one, and probably isn't the best.

If gross payroll were the only meaningful criteria to judge the quality of a lineup, that would suggest that retaining the Ryan Zimmermans and Matt Chicos and (I could go on and on) would be a bad strategy, while keeping the Vidros and LoDucas of the world would be a good strategy.

As for this year, if the Nats could get a good starting pitcher through free agency, I would be all for that. I don't think it would be a disaster if they didn't.

Posted by: Wigi | January 7, 2008 3:52 PM | Report abuse

Wigi, you're fighting a losing battle. Some folks are conspicuous consumers, some folks aren't. Your argument will only convert the rest of us converted.

Posted by: Section 506 (Before moving) | January 7, 2008 3:59 PM | Report abuse

I agree with the predominate thread--the payroll isn't everything (but is one indicator of ownership comittment) and seems to be reasonable so far given where the team is and what has been available. I too have followed the Nats closely from the first year, and have been greatly entertained by this scrappy team. However, I would be disappointed if their management doesn't at least try to get some more pitching before they are through this year lest the entertainment value of watching our hometown team decrease. I even went so far as to buy a partial season pack (not that my tickets, promised in early December, have come yet--I keep getting "next month" whenever I inquire!)and look forward to seeing more games in person at the new digs, hopefully with a team that is fun to watch. And they gotta keep Zimm here and happy--it is hard to get to know this team and The Face must stay! The Plan for building from within should also result in a gradual increase of players who are with us for more than a year or two as some of the guys from the minors grow up and break through to stay for awhile. And management did pay attention to the fans' concerns about continuity when it elected to keep the TV team intact. So that too was positive.

Five weeks!

Posted by: NatsFly | January 7, 2008 4:10 PM | Report abuse

Thanks, Wigi, for putting it way more eloquently than I could have.

Posted by: Atlanta | January 7, 2008 4:13 PM | Report abuse

But he does it so well.
************
Wigi, you're fighting a losing battle.
Posted by: Section 506 (Before moving) | January 7, 2008 03:59 PM

Posted by: CE | January 7, 2008 4:19 PM | Report abuse

+1 to wigi for that. wholeheartedly agree.

Posted by: 231 (other 506) | January 7, 2008 4:52 PM | Report abuse

Spending Money is not everything but Nats have proven they are not willing to spend even small amounts to improve the team short term. Signing Vet Pitcher for 10 Million (Livo) for one year is a good example. How does that hurt the team? Signing a proven pinch hitter last year instead of Tony B how much would that cost....2-3 Million? All you Batista lovers....note nobody has touched him and will not, any scout could look at him and say.....just plan lucky at the end of last year with those loop hits.

Posted by: JayB | January 7, 2008 4:56 PM | Report abuse

I'm just going to mark my disagreement with JayB on signing a vet pitcher not hurting development at all and Tony Batista. If anyone is interested, I'll write why, but I think everyone's mind is made up.

Posted by: Section 506 (Before moving) | January 7, 2008 5:07 PM | Report abuse

Baseball America was having a chat on Yankees prospects today, and I managed to slip in this Nats question. It is germane to our discussion of trading for young talent:

Q: Kevin from Fairfax VA asks:
Where might Tyler Clippard have ranked in the Yanks' top 30 if he had not been traded to the Nationals?

A: John Manuel: Toward the back of the 30 if he'd been in it; he is what he is, the projection Yanks fans would come on his fastball did not happen, and to paraphrase Denny Green, he is who we THOUGHT he was . . .

Posted by: Five more weeks | January 7, 2008 5:07 PM | Report abuse

In all fairness, they never said they were trying to improve the team short-term. The Plan is long-term. They've been all too clear about that. I may disagree with it, but you can't really say they're cheap because they didn't do something they said all along they were not going to do.

They might, in fact, be cheap, but that's not evidence of it.
**********
Spending Money is not everything but Nats have proven they are not willing to spend even small amounts to improve the team short term.
Posted by: JayB | January 7, 2008 04:56 PM

Posted by: CE | January 7, 2008 5:19 PM | Report abuse

Do I WANT to know what that means??


*********
"he is what he is, the projection Yanks fans would come on his fastball did not happen..."

Posted by: yecch. | January 7, 2008 5:20 PM | Report abuse

I'll bit....How does a one year deal but at a big price hurt? Please don't says they are better off saving their money now to spend it later.....that is just Stan Speak. If it was true by 2010 we would be spending like the Yanks and we all can agree that is not happening.

Posted by: JayB | January 7, 2008 5:21 PM | Report abuse

My thought was that a one-year deal for big money may not be of value if any of the following things occur:

1) The pitcher bites and we've just spent a bunch for someone that a rookie could have matched

2) The pitcher is a prima donna who simply engenders bad feelings among teammates

3) The pitcher keeps a prospect from getting to strut his stuff.

It seems to me that this free agent class doesn't have anyone who is a lock, so that there is a risk and given the success at finding scrapheap stop-gaps from last year, I'd probably choose to roll the dice on the cheap rather than on the pricey.

Posted by: Section 506 (Before moving) | January 7, 2008 5:28 PM | Report abuse

Well, since you asked nicely, I won't say that. But your premise is flawed -- saving money (which *is* a finite resource, even for billionaires) now and spending like the Yankees later, or else spending like the last-15-years-or-so Orioles, are not the only options.
One year contracts that tank hurt less than 5 or 10 year contracts that tank, but it still hurts. Sure, not as much as jumping on a bicycle with the seat removed, but it hurts.

Posted by: Frank Drebbin | January 7, 2008 5:32 PM | Report abuse

i'm still trying to figure out how much one year of livo is really worth. certainly not $10m worth. what does he really add to this team (other than the link to the first season and "sentimentality" for old school fans)?

if we'd get the livo of 2005, maybe. but the livo of 2008 won't be worth that and won't really do much for the team, imo. he won't add "veteran presence," cuz he's just not that guy. he may add innings, but we can find 5.0 ERA innings a lot of places for less than $10m/yr.

Posted by: 231 (other 506) | January 7, 2008 5:43 PM | Report abuse

I agree with Wigi. The Plan seems to be going well so far. I'd like the to splurge for a new Zimmerman contract so we don't risk alienating him, and I'm still begging for a one-year contract for Livo. Other than that, I think they are spending wisely and I'm fine with that.

A key will be the new stadium. Will it be top notch or will there be signs of skimping? The Lerners run the risk of the "cheap" and "bastards" comment being used together if the stadium ammenities are hosed up.

Posted by: Nats fan in NJ | January 7, 2008 5:48 PM | Report abuse

I could be talked into setting aside *one* chunk of money (heck, it's not MY money... OK, a wee piece of it is) for a name with star power. Think Loaiza in '05, Sori in '06.

That doesn't mean it has to happen every season. But I'm intrigued by a few names, so lemme throw this one out there: Bartolo Colon.

The Royals are reported to be courting Colon with great fervor. Is this a wise move by KC? And should the Nats be competing?

Posted by: Hendo | January 7, 2008 6:01 PM | Report abuse

Maybe they need to spend some of that money to get Charlie Slowes signed.

Posted by: Anonymous | January 7, 2008 6:07 PM | Report abuse

Do I WANT to know what that means??


*********
"he is what he is, the projection Yanks fans would come on his fastball did not happen..."

Posted by: eeeewwww! | January 7, 2008 6:10 PM | Report abuse

Clearly, that man is an imposter!!

---

Posted by: Frank Drebbin | January 7, 2008 05:32 PM

Posted by: Enrico Palazzo | January 7, 2008 6:11 PM | Report abuse

Mark me down for agreeing with wigi also.

The Nationals front office are:

1) not doing anything beyond the scope set forth in "the plan"

2) not contracting existing players beyond the horizon, thus not locking themselves into potentially expensive mistakes

3) wagering on younger talent than older talent

4) keeping a keen eye on the unmeasureable element of clubhouse chemistry, irrespective of expense

Of these, #3 is most important to me because as a fan I like to cheer for a young kid who is just about to have a career year in front of my eyes. I may be a few years older than most of the guys on the team, but every year I still feel like I want to do that, too. The young guys just allow me to do that vicariously ... or at least they're not expensive mistakes.

Posted by: i hate walks | January 7, 2008 6:13 PM | Report abuse

p.s. excellent, excellent post, Barry. Thanks. :)

Posted by: i hate walks | January 7, 2008 6:15 PM | Report abuse

I am with JayB on this one. The "Plan" might--might--work long-term (and there is absolutely no guarantee of that), but here is the problem: The Nats have a limited window in DC to establish their presence as something that people should pay attention to year after year. And they are failing to do that. They are risking being identified as losers in the DC mindset and becoming just like the Capitals--draw poorly when they're not winning, and draw decently when they are. The Nats should want to be more than a fad that gets popular when the team is good. They could aspire to a lot more, but the window is closing.

We posters here on NJ are part of an enthusiastic minority, but the fact is that the Nats have not established themselves among the community at large. Part of that is through their marketing failures (addressed in other recent threads). And an even larger part of establishing themselves is by at least trying to field a competitive team now. Management completely sacrificed 2007, and they are sacrificing 2008 too by again putting together a AAAA starting rotation. If the team were to sign a couple veteran free agent pitchers to short-term contracts, maybe they pan out, and maybe they don't. But at least the team would be making an effort to field a respectable team now, with the goal of fielding a championship team later still intact.

Thousands more people are not going to want to see the Nats night after night just because they have a new stadium. At the least, fielding a competitive team this season--or at least trying to do so--would help. The Nats have a great opportunity to establish a big buzz with the new stadium. They are blowing it big time.

Posted by: Coverage is lacking | January 7, 2008 6:20 PM | Report abuse

so which FA SPs should they (or should they have) sign(ed) to short term contracts?

and by that, you have to include which pitchers would have signed in DC on a short term contract.

the reality is that there *were* no *good* SPs on the FA market. at best there was silva, a #4 pitcher on a good team, a #3 at best. but he signed a 4 year deal at something like 11m.

so which FAs would sign short-term in DC and produce better than our AAAA SPs? fogg? lohse? colon (still possible)? livo (i know many want this)? wolf (i would have considered him, he signed for 1 yr, but would he consider us?)? jeff weaver? glavine (would have considered him, too, but he only wanted atlanta)? prior (for 2-3 months of pitching)?

i'm just not seeing the opportunities people seem to think were out there for us to sign any kind of quality FA SP to a short-term contract. we still have possibilities (colon, jennings), but there really wasn't much out there. and almost every team was looking, too. and wanted to sign guys for short-term deals. it's not as easy as it sounds. ask the royals.

Posted by: 231 (other 506) | January 7, 2008 6:40 PM | Report abuse

btw, i meant silva's deal was 4 yrs, 11m/yr, not total. and i was wrong, it was $12m/yr.

Posted by: 231 (other 506) | January 7, 2008 6:40 PM | Report abuse

RE: Free Agent Pitcher

The argument for or against signing a starting pitcher (right now) has very little to do with the actual cost. The issue is whether or not that pitcher offers you a significant improvement over what you have, OR if he offers something (like a veteran presence) that you need.

Livo offers two things that the Nats don't have: a veteran presence in the rotation, and the high likelihood that he'll pitch more than 150 innings. BUT... he's really no better than anything we have right now. The main problem with the Nats pitching staff is that it is 1) unproven, and 2) injury-prone. Item one will take care of itself (they'll either be as good as we think, or they won't), and we don't know whether the injury issue is a training issue or a conformation issue. It may just be that the Nats pitchers (and for that matter, the rest of the team) is rather fragile, but there might have also been (and may still be) something about the training regimen and facilities that makes the Nats more prone to injury.

[As an aside, this is one area that I've heard almost nothing about, and would love to know more... it seems to me that with the new facilities, the Nats should have state-of-the-art equipment... do they have a state-of-the-art training staff and philosophy?]

I am torn about signing Livo. He is a blast to watch pitch, and he could probably teach some pitchers something about advancing runners (and hitting homers, for that matter). But watching Livo pitch from four runs behind is no fun... I've done that more than once... and he's going to take some kid's place who would (in that situation) do as well, if not better.

Livo (or any other FA pitcher) will cost what he costs... which is probably too much. But we should (over)pay if he offers what we need... but not if he doesn't.

Posted by: Wigi | January 7, 2008 7:16 PM | Report abuse

231, I'm not the GM. It's not my job to play GM and then have you critique the picks. That's Bowden's job to evaluate them, and he gets paid a lot to do it. I don't dispute that it is a difficult job. But have the Nats made offers to pitchers that they turned down for other teams? I don't know; Barry hasn't reported any such instances. The Cardinals certainly thought that Clement was worth a risk and have written him in to their rotation. Did the Nats look at him? I don't know. And what about Colon? If we learned that Bowden had been/is even trying to sign one of these guys and been losing out (and these are just examples), that might be a different story. But there's no indication that he's even seriously trying to sign someone. I think that's a mistake.

Posted by: Coverage is lacking | January 7, 2008 7:18 PM | Report abuse

Coverage is lacking is exactly right. Give Bowden $20 million more to increase payroll and what do you think he'd do? He'd find a way to spend it. This whole argument that there was nobody worth spending the money on is ridiculus.

Posted by: PowerBoater69 | January 7, 2008 8:10 PM | Report abuse

Agreed, it is the standard mantra of many on this blog, "nobody was available better" than Jason Williams, eh really......Nats has made it clear he will not spend money to put a better product on the field and that will be a fatal error in building the fan base.

Posted by: JayB | January 7, 2008 8:18 PM | Report abuse

"And an even larger part of establishing themselves is by at least trying to field a competitive team now. Management completely sacrificed 2007, and they are sacrificing 2008 too by again putting together a AAAA starting rotation. If the team were to sign a couple veteran free agent pitchers to short-term contracts, maybe they pan out, and maybe they don't. But at least the team would be making an effort to field a respectable team now, with the goal of fielding a championship team later still intact."

The big flaw in your argument here is that the Nationals in 2007 were a more competitive team than they were in 2006. That can be established on terms of W-L record alone, as it was better in 2007 than in 2006. In terms of the standings, the 2007 team was more competitive than both the 2006 and 2005 teams, since both of those teams finished last, while 2007's team didn't. So you can't really argue that they aren't making an effort to field a more respectable team, since as each year goes by the team has gotten more respectable. You may not like the particular effort they have been making, but based on results you have no argument when you say they have made no effort toward fielding a respectable team. Why not just shut up then, and enjoy the games?

Posted by: Anonymous | January 7, 2008 8:26 PM | Report abuse

I'll put my 2 cents in with Wigi on both his posts. I'm on the side of being frugal at this time. Don't waste money on an aging FA when it can be better spent developing your youngsters in the system. Look, this team is not going to win the W/S this year. Who didn't know that?? I say, when you think your team is starting to mature into a competetive group and has a chance at really making a run, then and only then should you write a blank check to put you over the top. I think that is basically what they're planning to do, when the time is right. As far as losing the fan base if you lose, please, this is not a hockey town. Baseball is STILL the national pastime, football be damned. Yeah, I like football, but I love baseball. So, to the Nats front office, keep on keepin on. What you're doing is just fine with me as of now.

Posted by: SC Nats Fan | January 7, 2008 8:29 PM | Report abuse

"Agreed, it is the standard mantra of many on this blog, "nobody was available better" than Jason Williams, eh really......Nats has made it clear he will not spend money to put a better product on the field and that will be a fatal error in building the fan base."

JayB, when on some day down the road the Nats complete a 4-3 win of the World Series, can we count on you to say that they'd have won it in a sweep if only the Lerners had spent more money? Really, with the team getting better with each successive year you're only making yourself look foolish with comments like "they will not spend money to put a better product on the field." They ARE putting a better product on the field, so why should you or I or anybody care how much or how little they spend to accomplish that?

Posted by: Section 419+1 | January 7, 2008 8:32 PM | Report abuse

Now play nice, kids.

---

Why not just shut up then, and enjoy the games?

Posted by: Everybody's mom | January 7, 2008 8:38 PM | Report abuse

2005 had a better record as I recall. But that is not the point. Yes I think they are improving in some areas but not in Starting Pitching. Even with improvements in CF that does not been they are as good as they could have been. Fick, Jimmerez, Batista, Williams, Jason S, etc......Come on we have been through this, they were better players to be had and they chose not to pay them so 2007 was not as good as it could have been. Spending in 2008 on Starting Pitching and a SS would improve the team for 2008.

Posted by: JayB | January 7, 2008 8:43 PM | Report abuse

To the anonymous poster who suggested to me that I should "just shut up then, and enjoy the games," let me tell you a couple things, buddy. First of all, telling people to "shut up" is not the way we do things around here, even when we disagree this is a civil and friendly group. Go to bpg if you want to talk like that Second of all, why don't you put a name to your post? Then maybe I will respond and explain how ridiculous your comments are, though in your case, I think your comments are so absurd that it speaks for itself and a substantive response is not necessary.

Posted by: Coverage is lacking | January 7, 2008 8:54 PM | Report abuse

So....uh, You guys hear about Nicole Kidman's pregnancy?...

Posted by: NatsNut | January 7, 2008 9:32 PM | Report abuse

1. Agree with Coverage is lacking re. anonymous sniping.

2. Nicole Kidman. For real? Huh.

Posted by: natsfan1a | January 7, 2008 9:50 PM | Report abuse

Clearly, Barry's post has opened up one of our more entertaining and strongly viewed topics! I certainly share the strength of views, if (hopefully) not the edge.

Payroll is clearly not the sole predictor of team success or fan satisfaction, and I'm sure more than a few us enjoy the periodic success of "underfunded" teams, especially those with sympathies for the Money Ball approach to baseball.

But investment in the Nats and our fan entertainment (stadium amenities and concessions absolutely included) are a measure of whether we can reasonably expect to be captured by the baseball experience at the new ballpark, and expect to enjoy years of good times in attending games. So to the degree that the payroll is an available sign of whether we will be well-entertained, I am concerned about the commitment the ownership group is demonstrating.

I have several reservations about the Lerner-Kasten-Bowden approach, which may or may not reflect on the question of whether the ownership is cheap or merely restrained in their spending. Among those concerns are seemingly abandoning getting even one "brand-name," marque player (probably for offense since I concur that the affordable available free agent pitching is very thin). I think we need a proven player that sparks fan interest (without replicating Baltimore's habit of securing the services of someone like Albert Bell).

I'd have more confidence in the Plan if I didn't think it was a cover story for a new perpetual version of "wait 'til next year," and I would in particular prefer a greater emphasis in the draft on proven college players rather than wet-behind-the-ears high schoolers (if we're really interested in value for our dollars, this strikes me as a no-brainer and Zimmerman would be my first exhibit).

I'd be more convinced of our ownership's commitment to us as fans if I thought they had a realistic handle on parking, and understood that afternoon games on get-away day are a good thing (especially with regard to parking and traffic). For me, these two items are symptoms of not understanding aspects of the fan base and their habits and preferences.

And I'm worried that as a substitute for not making a play for more expensive players we will instead be using the Cincinnati Reds as our secondary Triple-A team (please, I don't want to see a Dunn in our line-up!).

My interest in seeing baseball regularly in D.C. is very strong and I expect to go to games pretty much without regard to whether we're competitive (some of the visiting teams will be great . . . ). Still, I'd like to see the Nats ownership make a play to be better than average and to demonstrate an eagerness to be in contention (assuming we're not "ready" to be in the World Series--although after watching the bridesmaid Rockies this fall, I can't see why we can't aspire to that as well).

I'm not interested in waiting in long lines at the new park for under-cooked hot dogs and lousy beer, and I'm not interested in spending many evenings watching a team the owners have assembled if it's under-manned with lousy prospects.

Just my humble opinion.

Posted by: Carl in 306 | January 7, 2008 10:05 PM | Report abuse

Trenchant and well-put, Carl.
I concur in part and dissent in part, but well argued, sir.

(Dang, what is this, a cricket blog??)

Posted by: CE | January 7, 2008 10:27 PM | Report abuse

"To the anonymous poster who suggested to me that I should "just shut up then, and enjoy the games," let me tell you a couple things, buddy. First of all, telling people to "shut up" is not the way we do things around here, even when we disagree this is a civil and friendly group. Go to bpg if you want to talk like that Second of all, why don't you put a name to your post? Then maybe I will respond and explain how ridiculous your comments are, though in your case, I think your comments are so absurd that it speaks for itself and a substantive response is not necessary."

Let me apologize and say that I inadvertently forgot to include my pseudonym before I hit 'submit' on that posting. Also, please accept my apologies for perhaps using overly harsh terminology when what I intended to convey was something more like "Why not sit back and enjoy the games?" Because really, when it comes down to it the only argument that the likes of yourself, JayB, PowerBoater69 can seem to make is that the Lerners are too cheap to make the team competitive. That argument might hold water if the team was regressing, but in fact they aren't. They're improving. So when you call for the Lerners and Stan Kasten to spend more money to entertain the fans better, it sounds like all you really want to do is watch paychecks get collected. I'd invite you down to my workplace every Friday to watch me pick up mine, but I'm afraid I don't make near enough to satisfy you. You seem to think that the bigger the paychecks are, the better the team. Obviously, based on the increase in on-the-field performance since mid-2005 as determined by W-L record, that's not the case. Now, if you'd care to make a rational argument based on baseball judgment as to how the Lerners/Kasten/Bowden could have put together a better team but didn't solely because they didn't want to, then you might have a point. But y'all never do that, do you? Name some players that could have been obtained by the Nats but weren't. One or two names might reasonably be put forward (Gil Meche, anyone?) but nowhere near enough to have made any difference at all in the ultimate W-L record. So the bottom line is that the Nats have put together about as good a team as they possibly could have over the past three years, even though you may think they've done it on the cheap. So what if they have? More money would not have done any better, short of them buying the Red Sox or Yankees franchises and moving them to town. It ain't gonna change, so you might as well suck it up and live with it, and save your negative energy up until the team does stop improving. If indeed that ever happens. Again I say, why not just sit back and enjoy the games?

Posted by: Section 419+1 | January 7, 2008 10:32 PM | Report abuse

Attracting top of the line FA to Washington has been a hard sell to this point, all things being equal, to play in the rathole RFK (sentimental to us) which drew much criticism from players thru the first three years. With the new park, I think that will change, especially as visiting teams pass through town, players on opposing teams may have a higher opinion as they become free agents. Only time will answer that, but it's got to improve, don't you think?

Posted by: SC Nats Fan | January 7, 2008 11:11 PM | Report abuse

And now for something completely different ... The Nats should not waste money trying to win an extra five games in 2008. Continue to bui;d the farm system. If through some inspired plan they are 42-40 at the half way point then go ahead and trade for a couple of missing parts and make a run for it. Otherwise keep on plan. Do not block the development of young pitching with mediocre free agents.

They can afford to pick up a FA starter like Livo or Jennings to cover for Patterson when he goes on the DL, but otherwise let Hill, Bergmann, Lanan, Chico, and others develop.

It seems unlikely that the Nats will find a leadoff hitter or Cleanup hitter in the market before July. Play the players that are available, save the money. Develop from within.

They won't get the 'best draft' again in 2008 because they don't have the quantity of picks, but if they have another good one, then by 2009/2010 they could be very solid.

BTW, To those who complain about last year's bench, do not forget that a) Young and Belliard were supposed to be on the bench when the year started and b) they were trying to give guys like Casto, Flores, and Logan a chance to develop. Actually, 1 out of 3 is not bad odds. Seriously.

Posted by: NatBisquit | January 7, 2008 11:15 PM | Report abuse

Here's the problem with the "win 82 games instead of 77" argument: there's no way to know ahead of time.
We see it every year. Last year, the Nats were going to lose 100-120 games. The Diamondbacks and Rockies were rebuilding, fighting over last place. The Mets were a lock in the East.
It's not like the NBA, where good teams go a little further each year. Small-to-medium market teams jump up out of nowhere for one or two years, then fall back when they can't keep the lightning in the bottle. But the shortage isn't players, it's organizational quality. Good organizations can manage to keep finding talent, but there aren't enough FO guys that good to go around. There are ALWAYS Tulowitzskis and Zimmermans and Piazzas and Schmidts. The problem is finding and signing them.
Why do people hate Angelos so much, if not for taking one of the best FOs in baseball, and completely pooching it?
Personally, I don't think Kasten and Bowden are the type to keep refilling the lightning bottle, but they might catch it once. Time will tell.

********************
The Nats should not waste money trying to win an extra five games in 2008.
Posted by: NatBisquit | January 7, 2008 11:15 PM

Posted by: CE | January 7, 2008 11:28 PM | Report abuse

Well, for any of you who previously suggested that 419 and I are actually the same person, now you have your answer...

But seriously 419, I think you are missing the mark here on several fronts, and in a big way. Let me preface this by saying that I never have attributed to "cheapness" the Lerner/Kasten regime's failure to spend so far. Whether they are cheap or not remains to be seen. What I attribute their unwillingness to spend to is an overly "rational" approach by Kasten that, because the Nats are not yet ready to seriously contend, it is not "worth it" to spend real money on payroll now, because that money is a "waste" if it does not contribute to the ultimate goal of winning a championship. Now that approach may work for some people who read Moneyball and think that as a result they know everything there is to know about running a team, but in the real world here in DC where you have to also consider how to market and sell your team to the public, I think this is a huge misjudgment. It assumes that (1) the fans (and I mean casual fans, not diehards like us) don't care about whether the team is even competitive in the meantime before the Plan's designed fruition, and (2) the Plan will be successful. These are both huge assumptions, and I think the Nats are blowing the big opportunity they have with a new team and now a new stadium in making them.

As to your comments about an improving team, huh? You referred to the "increase in on-the-field performance since mid-2005 as determined by W-L record"? You do know what the Nats' record was in the first half of 2005, and what it was in the second half, don't you? Anyway, the team is not "improving" on the ML level, even from '06 to '07. A swing of a couple more wins year-to-year does not suggest improvement, it is just treading water.

In any case, since the Lerners have only owned the team since mid-'06, I think the only decisions that are relevant are the decisions that have been made since that time. Also, let's focus on starting pitching, which is what my earlier post that you reacted to so strongly focused on. On that front, do you really contend that the Nats couldn't have signed a free agent pitcher or 2 that would have performed more competitively than Bascik/Williams/Simontacchi/Speigner/Bowie? Come on, get serious. Again, I'm not going to play your game of "name a pitcher that would have signed here." If I name free agent pitchers from last offseason who peformed well in '07, you are just going to say something like "there's no way to have known he was going to pitch well last year, so it's a crapshoot." With respect to the current crop of free agents, I named a couple, and you didn't respond.

And again, this is Bowden's job, not mine. Give Bowden the money, and let him get the job done. Who knows how he might try to do it if he had the resources? Maybe last offseason he would have gotten creative and signed a FA outfielder and then traded Kearns, for example, for a decent starter. Who knows? If he had the money and still couldn't find any pitchers last year better than the above group, then maybe he shouldn't be the GM. On the other hand if he was limited by the budget, well then, that just proves the point, doesn't it?

I don't want a bigger payroll to have a bigger payroll. Instead, I think the Nats should try to be competitive even while building the Farm and hoping to catch lightning in a bottle in, say, 2011 or 2012. It takes money to do that. The Nats have done nothing to improve the rotation, and as a result they appear unwilling to spend the money even to be competitive now. I think that decision is shortsighted. I think it is also an insult to the DC fans, and I'm not sure why some of us are so enthusiastic to embrace it.

Posted by: Coverage is lacking | January 8, 2008 12:41 AM | Report abuse

" With three seasons in the books, and only 4-5 players (???) still here from opening day 2005(Cordaro, Rauch, Ayala, Johnson, and Guzman),"

You need to make that 6 players. John Patterson was traded to the Expos in March 2004 and has been with the team ever since. You might make it 6 1/2- Shawn Hill was in the Expos/Nats organization but did not play in 2005 as he was recovering from Tommy John surgery.

Posted by: gilsfan | January 8, 2008 1:37 AM | Report abuse

I have been on the side of spending some more to make the team more entertaining while they build from within. However, I am not talking about giving Aaron Rowand the kind of money he got. I am more talking about trying to spend enough to get Jason Jennings or Mark (no longer available) Prior. These are taking chances on a pitcher that might cost the Nats more to get, but who could find their 15+ win stuff or health again.

I personally am much happier getting Lastings Milledge than trying to get Torii Hunter. I have a guilty excitment to see Elijah Dukes play, and want to see WMP have a full season. I just feel that another veteran pitcher who might not be totally a cheap reclamation project doesn't equate with putting someone in the way of young pitchers. It's more likely that Lannan or Mock or maybe even Tyler Clippard needs another year in the minors. Having one real veteran in the starting rotation could make the team incrementally more interesting during another rebuilding year.

Posted by: Five more weeks | January 8, 2008 5:06 AM | Report abuse

Congratulations to LSU, but also congratulations to us. One more sports event falls away, and there is no more reason to discuss college football.

Look forward to the spring, WaPo. We'll accept Wilbon attempting to find yet another way to talk about the Redskins (they are done for the year, you know), but feel free to catch up with a Nationals player or two for the next several weeks.

Posted by: Five more weeks | January 8, 2008 6:32 AM | Report abuse

Section 419+1: "So the bottom line is that the Nats have put together about as good a team as they possibly could have over the past three years." You sound like Hillary Clinton, telling people not to expect too much and you are both wrong. There is plenty of room for improvement on a team that finished 20 and 16 games under .500 for the past two seasons. Give Bowden some real money to spend and he will get us some pitchers who don't spend half the season on the injured list.

Posted by: PowerBoater69 | January 8, 2008 6:48 AM | Report abuse

I don't think it makes any sense to sign a free agent to a long term contract at the expense of developing players from the farm system. The Nats did sign free agents to short term contracts and they improved the team. As far as spending 100 million for Jones or Rowand, I think the money is better spent on developing and signing draft picks.

I must ask what is the point making decisions about this years team until the season starts and we can see the results of the changes from last season. One certainly can't say the Nats stood pat when you note how many players have been added during the off season.

Posted by: Bob In Leesburg | January 8, 2008 7:22 AM | Report abuse

I'm with those who think the Nats have done all the right things this off-season and not spending the crazy $. But I'm also with those who think a few more moves would demonstrate "a desire to win." First the positives: We have strengthened our bench with versatile players who can hit; We have added leadership in the lockeroom to add to Young and Belliard; we have a bullpen that will be the envy of most teams in MLB; and we have the matrix of an outfield for the future--far cry from last year, see Church, Logan, Casto--with the potential to produce 100+ homeruns between Pena, Milledge, Dukes and Kearns. Here's where I see the Nats need to do to convince us they want to win: 1) they need to sign Zimmerman to a long-term real contract; 2) they need to go out and find a slick fielding SS, it won't cost that much; 3) they need a veteran pitcher, lest the youngsters continue with injuries or need more time to grow into year-round big-league competition; and, 4) maybe the most difficult, go find a lead-off hitter. What separates a good front office from a bad, look at the Redskins, is going into a season knowing what holes you have and doing nothing about it. Hope of growing the remaining needs from within is putting your head in the sand--we went after Lo Duca, Boone, Harris, and others to fill a specific need. Just finish the job and take care of 3 of the 4 remaining needs and you'll convince many that you are serious about being competitive.

Posted by: Eric | January 8, 2008 7:32 AM | Report abuse

Way to own up to it and clarify your point, 419. The debate immediately came back down to a reasoned and intelligent one.

Posted by: NatsNut | January 8, 2008 8:25 AM | Report abuse

well i'm with you fellas.

Posted by: longterm | January 8, 2008 8:47 AM | Report abuse

"Hope of growing the remaining needs from within is putting your head in the sand--we went after Lo Duca, Boone, Harris, and others to fill a specific need."

Good point. It's hard to believe that anyone expects the farm system to fill the gaps that still confront the Nats in 2008.

The thing is, the minors will probably *never* fill those gaps directly. Teams will always be trading for each other's prospects. What the Nats must do in this regard is to continue aggressively to build a farm system that produces prospects worthy either of trading or of playing, as appropriate.

What to do right now -- in particular, how to operate in a thin free-agent market in advance of Opening Day 2008 -- is something other posters and I have addressed dozens, hundreds, of times in the three-plus months of the offseason. Few minds have been changed, or will be.

Not surprisingly, many find it easier to excoriate the Lerners (or each other) than to consider the time and resource challenges that must be confronted in building a team to win long-term.

Even so, I haven't seen nearly as much venom, question-begging, or recycled non sequitur in this thread as I expected to by now. I guess there's still time.

Posted by: Hendo | January 8, 2008 8:57 AM | Report abuse

"Well, for any of you who previously suggested that 419 and I are actually the same person, now you have your answer..."

Not necessarily, Coverage, I think the suggestion was that you had multiple personalities, so that could still be valid.

"One more sports event falls away, and there is no more reason to discuss college football."

Warning, Five More Weeks, it's a presidential election year! AND an Olympic year! Don't look for the Post to have more resources!

I feel like I'm in a Mary Worth comic strip! Bang!

Posted by: Anonymous | January 8, 2008 9:05 AM | Report abuse

That was me with the bangers. But everything gets attributed to me anyway, so I figured it was okay.

Posted by: Section 506 (Before moving) | January 8, 2008 9:06 AM | Report abuse

I like the Plan of building through youth to get a good core group--and then adding a FA or two later to go for the pennant. I don't really want them to give too many millions for some near-washed-up old guy.

However, why would the Nats increase season ticket prices so much when the Nats were given a free stadium? Don't say that the cheap seats are still cheap, and just buy a good pair of binoculars. The same good seats are a lot more expensive this season, and there are no huge new expenses to justify it--only a big revenue boost from the gifted stadium. Just a pure and simple rip-off.

Posted by: EdDC | January 8, 2008 9:11 AM | Report abuse

Dagnabit!! Gibbs resigned as Redskins coach merely to keep the Nationals from being discussed in the Sports section for several more weeks.

Oh, wait- I'm not that paranoid...

Posted by: Five more weeks | January 8, 2008 9:14 AM | Report abuse

You beat me to it, five more! :)

Posted by: natsfan1a | January 8, 2008 9:17 AM | Report abuse

I agree, NatsNut. Well done!

---

Way to own up to it and clarify your point, 419. The debate immediately came back down to a reasoned and intelligent one.

Posted by: natsfan1a | January 8, 2008 9:18 AM | Report abuse

To be fair, Ed, the Lerners did spend $450 million to buy the team. Incidentally, Forbes now estimates them the 10th most valuable team in baseball, $10 million behind... grr... Philly.

http://www.forbes.com/lists/2007/33/07mlb_The-Business-Of-Baseball_Rank.html

But I completely agree that it's more expensive than I would really like it to be.

Posted by: Section 506 (Before moving) | January 8, 2008 9:19 AM | Report abuse

Also well done to all on letting the political analogy float off into oblivion like a certain item in the proverbial punchbowl (I think that metaphor just sank). :)

Posted by: natsfan1a | January 8, 2008 9:21 AM | Report abuse

I was referring to my metaphor, BTW.

Posted by: natsfan1a | January 8, 2008 9:24 AM | Report abuse

Headline on Boswell's column in this morning's print edition:

Gibbs Wants an Extended Stay, Not an Early Checkout

Boswell says "Put the odds at 95 percent." What does he base this on? "My days as a Gibbsologist began when he arrived in town in '81."

Mere hours after this column arrived on my doorstep, Joe Gibbs has resigned. Any chance now that Boswell goes back to writing about a sport that he alledgedly knows something about?

Posted by: Section 419+1 | January 8, 2008 9:24 AM | Report abuse

Today's Gibbsology grade = D-

:)

Posted by: natsfan1a | January 8, 2008 9:25 AM | Report abuse

I'm having flashbacks of Abe Pollin dismissing Michael Jordan. We'll see if they're justified.

Posted by: Section 506 (Before moving) | January 8, 2008 9:34 AM | Report abuse

Patience is required to fulfill the goals of THE PLAN. It appears that patience is wearing thin on some of us (not me). Hopefully in two years the plan will begin to show results expected. Of course, no guarantees can be given, not even by the FO. The entire management staff is supposedly and apparently in full concert with the plan. To deviate from what they all said from the beginning would reflect panic. So far, none has been detected, except by some fans. I truly believe that if we all exercise patience and give the plan time, we will be better for it and have an exciting franchise for years to come. So, I shall stand pat and remain supportive of the current path they're on. I think it is a winning one, we'll see.

Posted by: SC Nats Fan | January 8, 2008 9:45 AM | Report abuse

If Boswell picks the Nats to go 90-72 this season, head for the hills...

Posted by: Hendo | January 8, 2008 9:45 AM | Report abuse

Right on, SC Nats Fan. The Nats are in a heck of a better shape than the Washington football team, which is shaking apart.

Posted by: Section 506 (Before moving) | January 8, 2008 9:53 AM | Report abuse

SC Nats fan, what kind of results are you expecting in two years? Players don't develop that quickly in baseball, and many "prospects" flame out.

And in any case, I don't see people on this board "panicking" and claiming that "the Plan" is a failure and that the Nats should try to buy a pennant now. Instead, I see some people saying that the Nats should actually make a respectable effort to be competitive now, while the players down on the farm mature and the Plan develops. The two are hardly mutually exclusive, and I'm not sure why you are suggesting that they are. Why should people be "patient" in waiting for the Nats to field a team that is respectable?

Posted by: Coverage is lacking | January 8, 2008 10:13 AM | Report abuse

Leaving aside the issue of whether the existing fan base is patient or not (which is an individual choice/trait), there's also the issue of building a fan base beyond the hard core fans (but that's another thread, I suppose).

Posted by: natsfan1a | January 8, 2008 10:23 AM | Report abuse

"The Nats are in a heck of a better shape than the Washington football team, which is shaking apart."

The Redskins have been in the playoffs two out of the last three years.

Posted by: PowerBoater69 | January 8, 2008 10:27 AM | Report abuse

I'm expecting to be put in the 'contender' status. In other words, to be able at that time to have eneough talent homegrown, mixed in with a FA or two., perhaps even a trade. Spend when it counts, not just to appease a short term goal. See Orioles. Believe me, when they start winning, they will come, prior record be damned.

Posted by: SC Nats Fan | January 8, 2008 10:33 AM | Report abuse

Clearly payroll is a minor variable--ESPN lists Lo Duca's salary at $6.6 large by the way. The next phase of our shopping strategy comes when we get the stuff home from the store and try it on. What exactly do we have in terms of Detwiler, Marrero and Burgess. Next year we should be able to see how many of these younger players can contribute and at what level. Marrero might be the cleanup hitter to put behind Zimmerman, or maybe we have to wait for Burgess. Maybe Detwiler takes off this year, or maybe its the other Zimmerman or Balester, but we need a young pitcher to emerge as ready to join the rotation. We will know how to evaluate payroll and shopping plans by August of this year, not because we are likely to be in contention, but because we will have more information about the real variable--talent, and how much healthy talent do we really have.

Posted by: Julia's Dad | January 8, 2008 10:36 AM | Report abuse

PowerBoater69, do you not watch football?

Posted by: Section 506 (Before moving) | January 8, 2008 10:49 AM | Report abuse

I watched my team get beat on Saturday because they were missing John Jansen and Randy Thomas. If Snyder promotes Williams to head coach, the Skins should be in good shape heading into 2008.

If you think the current group of Nats are a playoff contender, you have not watched much baseball the past couple of years.

Posted by: PB69 | January 8, 2008 11:00 AM | Report abuse

So apparently you admit that being competitive now is not important in your view--"spend when it counts, not just to appease a short term goal." I think that such a view is really shortsighted--being competitive now is hardly an insignificant "short term goal." I simply don't understand why you and others in the fan base are so enthusiastic to be disrespected like that, and will eagerly cheer on the Nats Front Office as they don't even try to field a competitive team now. As I said before, trying to field a competitive team now would not undermine the "Plan" in any way. So why not spend some money and try to do it?

As for thinking that the "Plan" is going to put the Nats into contender status in 2010, while I strongly support a plan to build from within, I think that is wildly optimistic to think that 2010 could be a break-out year. But that's a different topic for another day.
------------------
I'm expecting to be put in the 'contender' status. In other words, to be able at that time to have eneough talent homegrown, mixed in with a FA or two., perhaps even a trade. Spend when it counts, not just to appease a short term goal. See Orioles. Believe me, when they start winning, they will come, prior record be damned.

Posted by: SC Nats Fan | January 8, 2008 10:33 AM

Posted by: Coverage is lacking | January 8, 2008 11:04 AM | Report abuse

". . . trying to field a competitive team now would not undermine the 'Plan' in any way."

A remarkable assertion, but not out of line with the ad hominem arguments sprinkled throughout the rest of the post. Now we're back up to speed.

Posted by: Hendo | January 8, 2008 11:13 AM | Report abuse

Funny. I watched my team get beat Saturday because the receiving corps decided to drop everything right in their hands. Oh, and Collins isn't nearly so much a genius when he doesn't have a lead. Turns out he can be just as desperate.

That's not the point, though. The point is that if Double-g's is not named head coach the team will disintegrate. And that O-line isn't getting any younger.

Look, we know that football and baseball are different. Football has parity that is only found in the NL Central in baseball. All the same, if I bet on Washington teams making the playoff next year, it would be the Nationals. The 'Skins have an ugly '08 awaiting them, I think.

For those of you baseball-centric folks out there, get ready to hear more, not less coverage of America's real pasttime.

Posted by: Section 506 (Before moving) | January 8, 2008 11:15 AM | Report abuse

"I see some people saying that the Nats should actually make a respectable effort to be competitive now, while the players down on the farm mature and the Plan develops. The two are hardly mutually exclusive, and I'm not sure why you are suggesting that they are. Why should people be "patient" in waiting for the Nats to field a team that is respectable?"

I see the Nats adding WMP, Milledge, Kearns, Young, LoDuca, etc, to the team over the last 18 months, while discarding over-the-hill players such as Vidro, Guillen, Castilla and indeed Livo to make room for the new blood. I see a team with a better W-L record now than they had with those guys, and the prospect for improvement this season. Sure, there are still holes in the club that need to be filled, but guess what? More than half of the clubs in MLB have as many or more holes in their lineups. So I see no reason to claim that the Nats are not fielding a respectable team this year. If anyone says that they are, they would have to agree that the teams of 2005 and 2006 were not respectable either, because those teams had a somewhat worse W-L record than 2007 (add up 2005 and 2006, and see if the number of games under .500 is not less than the number of games under .500 for the 2007 team), and the 2005 and 2006 teams were DFL in the standings while the 2007 team wasn't. Would you all agree to stipulate in your arguments that the Soriano-led team in 2006 was not respectable before you tar the 2008 team with that same label? No? I didn't think so. Case closed on any comments about not fielding a respectable team - unless of course your only criterion for respectability is the size of a team's payroll.

Posted by: Section 419+1 | January 8, 2008 11:17 AM | Report abuse

look, i'm not against adding payroll. i'm for it. i'm just not for it "for the sake of doing it."

there have been some legitimate suggestions for targets (and some not legitimate, imo). and for at least some of them, we may have been in the running. we've been linked to several FA recovering pitchers, like jennings, bensen, and prior. two of those are still in play. but the reality is there really wasn't a FA splash to be made on the pitching side because there wasn't a FA pitcher who could create the splash (unless you contend livo doing a cannonball, which i will concede would be one huge frikken splash). there were offensive players would could make a splash, and some at a position of need (CF), but many of us would argue they were all overpaid, in $$ and/or length of contract.

i'd love to add a SS, but there wasn't much out there. we did add a corner OF last august and two more this fall. and hopefully will add a couple of more pieces to last year by recovering from injuries.

again, i'm not against adding payroll and FAs, i just haven't seen a convincing argument (to me, at least) that we've passed on a FA who was interested in coming here for a contract that we wouldn't regret 2-3 years down the line, if not sooner.

oh, and as barry noted, our opening day payroll looks to be in the viscinity of 150% of last year's opening day payroll ($53.2m vs $37.3m), so it's not like the team hasn't increased payroll at all, there just wasn't a big splashy signing.

Posted by: 231 (other 506) | January 8, 2008 11:39 AM | Report abuse

419, as I said already, in my view the size of the team's payroll is not the only criterion for respectability. But we don't have a single starting pitcher slated for the rotation who ever has won even 10 games in a season, or who has ever thrown 200 innings. Do you really consider that a recipe for respectability? Personally, I do not.

As to your W-L record jujitsu, what are you talking about in combining 2005 and 2006, and then saying that the Nats were more respectable in 2007 than they were in '05 or '06? The Nats were a respectable team in '05. They had two established starters in their rotation in Livo and Loaiza. They were not respectable in '06, they were not respectable in '07, and their rotation in '08 is most likely going to make them not respectable this coming season too. As to the fact that the Nats did not finish last in the division last year, I don't think we should be trumpeting as an accomplishment the fact that the Marlins have thrown in the towel.

Posted by: Coverage is lacking | January 8, 2008 11:45 AM | Report abuse

The Nats of '05 were respectable BEFORE the All-Star Break. The Nats of '07 were respectable AFTER. I'll take the latter any day.

Posted by: Section 506 (Before moving) | January 8, 2008 12:01 PM | Report abuse

Instead of just re-arranging deck chairs on the Titanic, what we need are newer, better deck chairs! Sure they're more expensive, but we need the kind with the styrofoam armrests!

Posted by: -glazing over- | January 8, 2008 12:02 PM | Report abuse

Good, cuz you can have my share any day.
The '05 team was a fluke of circumstances (they were so D/\mned glad to be in one place!), but they were a lot more fun, even in the heartbreaking if inevitable second half.
But I grew up as a Cubs fan in the '60s, so masochism is pretty much second nature.

***********
The Nats of '05 were respectable BEFORE the All-Star Break. The Nats of '07 were respectable AFTER. I'll take the latter any day.

Posted by: Section 506 (Before moving) | January 8, 2008 12:01 PM

Posted by: CE | January 8, 2008 12:06 PM | Report abuse

I'm in the Wigi camp (with many others) on this one. I don't think you can simply say "sign some free agents" without advocating particular players that should have been signed and making the case that those players make the team more competitive.

I think the FO has been properly focused on rebuilding the organizational depth that was lost during the lean years of MLB ownership. This team is not a player or two away from contending for a championship -- more like five or ten players away. Are some of those players on the current roster? Perhaps, but outside of Zimmerman, can we be sure? Do we know what we have, for the medium to long term, at first, second, short, or catcher? In Wily Mo, Milledge or Dukes? In Kearns, who looks great to me at $5 million but at $10 million, not so much? In Bergmann, Chico, Clippard, Detwiler, Hill, Lannan or Patterson? In the prospects down on the farm? Not yet.

At the moment, we have some depth, and some potential. We need to give the guys we have a chance to play and see which ones can take the next step. The time to add one or two top shelf free agents is when those additions are the missing pieces to the puzzle and put the team over the top. If you add them now, you waste money, block prospects and/or young players from developing, and don't improve the team by any great margin.

Also, if the pitching staff proved anything last year, it was that a piecemeal rotation of AAAA starters, plus a strong bullpen, could be just as good as a more expensive rotation that included a few high-priced average to below average veterans. The free agents pitchers available this offseason were either back-end starters or injury risks. We don't need the former and we have enough of the latter.

Posted by: Bob L. Head | January 8, 2008 12:08 PM | Report abuse

Hendo, I really don't consider my arguments to be ad hominem. I truly don't understand what is motivating some of the posters here on this issue, and I am inquiring about that because I think it is relevant to their views. I am not making personal attacks to argue my point. In any case, as a general matter I am a strong opponent of ad hominem arguments, and to the extent my comments were premised on them, I apologize.

As to how my assertion that trying to field a competitive team now won't undermine the Plan is remarkable, by all means, please explain. I don't think signing Matt Clement, say, or Bartolo Colon to a 1 or 2 year contract would hurt the Plan in any way. Do you? How?
-------------
". . . trying to field a competitive team now would not undermine the 'Plan' in any way."

A remarkable assertion, but not out of line with the ad hominem arguments sprinkled throughout the rest of the post. Now we're back up to speed.

Posted by: Hendo | January 8, 2008 11:13 AM

Posted by: Coverage is lacking | January 8, 2008 12:08 PM | Report abuse

The '05s were more than respectable, they were 50-31 dominant. They hindenberged after the Cubs series, but still.
The '07s were merely mediocre after May 10, which may technically be respectable, but it's a lot less dramatic.

*******
The Nats of '05 were respectable BEFORE the All-Star Break. The Nats of '07 were respectable AFTER. I'll take the latter any day.
Posted by: Section 506 (Before moving) | January 8, 2008 12:01 PM

Posted by: CE | January 8, 2008 12:13 PM | Report abuse

A few random thoughts:

Will NFL Commissioner Roger Goddell chastise Gibbs and the Redskins for making major news during the play-offs? (Or will Selig fine them just to make a point?)

I never hear anything about Colton Wilhems, the 2006 first round pick. How's he doing? Is he a bust already?

I'd be more upset if they fail to bring back Charlie Slowes than I will be if they don't sign Livo.

I think the years before the Nationals came to town have conditioned us to want the "candy" of a free agent signing year after year like the Baltimore club used to do, all the way back to Albert Belle. It should be a cautionary tale for all who want a FA spending spree.

That said, I think the Nats pitching is thin enough that they should work hard to get and even overpay for a proven veteran starting pitcher that can either (a) eat innings (Livo) or (b) become a surprise standout (Colon) since the rotation has the potential to implode like it did in the second half of 2005 (most of this was Bowden self-inflicted).

On the other hand - if such a signing would prevent (a) scouting in Asia and Latin America (b) hiring great coaches with a single player development philosophy throughout the minor leagues (c) signing all the 2008 draft picks (d) not signing Slowes (e) not being able to lock up Zimmerman for the next decade, then I'm against it.

One argument the pro-FA's haven't made is that the Nats should have met or exceeded the Cubs' offer for Soriano. I'd have liked to see him in the new park with this line-up:

Soriano - LF
Belliard - 2B
Zimmerman - 3B
Young/Johnson - 1B
Kearns - RF
Milledge - CF (flip him with Belliard once he gets comfortable)
LoDuca - C
Guzman/Lopez - SS

And you'd have a strong bench and wouldn't have had to sign Dukes. I don't think the above group would finish last in offense. Of course, you still need pitching and you wouldn't have the Soriano draft picks.

Unless you have money to burn like Yanks and Boston (Mets, too?) I don't think either approach guarantees success - you need a lot of luck, too. But I think the Nats approach has a better chance of long term success (see Braves) and less of a chance of major failure (Orioles, though they had incredibly bad luck).

Of course, you look at a team like the Tigers and see that maybe there is a "middle way". However, keep in mind that the Tigers could not take this approach until they developed a super-strong farm system.

Overall, I'm just glad we have a team to debate. I lived through 9/30/71 and the 3/5/06 near stadium-lease meltdown, so I'm grateful for every single pitch I get to see thrown by a team with "Washington" in their name.

Posted by: Natswriter | January 8, 2008 12:23 PM | Report abuse

So the '05 Nats were also abysmal then. 31-50. Far worse than the Pre-All-Star '07 Nats.

And I'm a GHF guy.

Posted by: Section 506 (Before moving) | January 8, 2008 12:25 PM | Report abuse

Coverage, I don't think it's a question of *hurting* the Plan. It simply isn't part of it, and so it would require deviating from it, which I don't think Kasten has any intention of doing (although keeping a loose cannon like Bowden around does argue otherwise).

The point this argument (collectively) seems to be missing is that no one can win championships by choosing to do so. The best you can do is position yourself as best you can, and take your chances. All you HAVE to do is get into the playoffs, and 85-90 wins will do that most years, and then be hot, which means having 2 dominant starters, better than average relievers, and decent luck.
It's a process of approximation, and it's not linear. There will always be risks.
In baseball, you don't know nothing.

That said, I agree with you, sign a stud if you can find one.

*********
As to how my assertion that trying to field a competitive team now won't undermine the Plan is remarkable, by all means, please explain. I don't think signing Matt Clement, say, or Bartolo Colon to a 1 or 2 year contract would hurt the Plan in any way. Do you? How?
-------------
" ... trying to field a competitive team now would not undermine the 'Plan' in any way."

Posted by: Coverage is lacking | January 8, 2008 12:08 PM

Posted by: CE | January 8, 2008 12:29 PM | Report abuse

Absolutely. That glass was full in the first half and empty in the second. Averages can be so misleading.

******
So the '05 Nats were also abysmal then. 31-50. Far worse than the Pre-All-Star '07 Nats.
And I'm a GHF guy.
Posted by: Section 506 (Before moving) | January 8, 2008 12:25 PM

Posted by: CE | January 8, 2008 12:30 PM | Report abuse

But I didn't say they were good, I said they were dramatic.

Posted by: ce | January 8, 2008 12:31 PM | Report abuse

I dunno. I think I could make a pretty big one, too!

---

...there wasn't a FA pitcher who could create the splash (unless you contend livo doing a cannonball, which i will concede would be one huge frikken splash)

Posted by: Bartolo Colon | January 8, 2008 12:31 PM | Report abuse

"The '05s were more than respectable, they were 50-31 dominant. They hindenberged after the Cubs series, but still.
The '07s were merely mediocre after May 10, which may technically be respectable, but it's a lot less dramatic."

The '05s were more than mediocre, they were 31-50 terrible. They overachieved before the Cubs series, but still. They were 81-81 for the season, and trending down. They may have been respectable the first half of the season, but they sure weren't during the second half.

The '07s were a .500 team after May 10, over 128 games, more than 3/4ths of a season. They may not have been respectable at the beginning of the season, but they sure were by the end. Just ask the Mets. They finished the season strongly and have made several moves during the offseason that can only strengthen the team. They are respectable by any definition of the term.

Tell me, are you "payroll is king" or "Lerners are too cheap to field a competitive team" folks able to derive any joy at all from a Nationals win if it is not the "right" players who win the game?

Posted by: Section 419+1 | January 8, 2008 12:45 PM | Report abuse

Preach it, 419.

Could I maybe persuade you the Post has some roses to go with its thorns, too, since we're on a roll with this agreeing thing.

Posted by: Section 506 (Before moving) | January 8, 2008 12:47 PM | Report abuse

There is no such thing as "over-achievement" -- there is the won/lost record. Everything else is just what somebody expected.
"There is no trying in baseball." -- Yoda

Careers and seasons always include streaks, hot and cold. Hot streaks are not "over-achieving," they're part of the game.

Personally, I believe getting settled here was a big boost to the players, and it wore off by July, but that's just me. My point, as I said, was not that they were good, they were more interesting. Two 31-50 halves is just a bad team. A 31-50 second half after a 50-31 first half is a LOT more interesting (OK, "to me") than 41-40/40-41.

Should that be The Plan? Hell no, that would be crazy. I'm just saying, I think institutionalized mediocrity is not worth watching.

I think the payroll issue misses the point. I don't care what they spend, I just want to enjoy watching it.
And that "ad hominem" line? You're pretty much straddling it there, bud.

**********
Tell me, are you "payroll is king" or "Lerners are too cheap to field a competitive team" folks able to derive any joy at all from a Nationals win if it is not the "right" players who win the game?
Posted by: Section 419+1 | January 8, 2008 12:45 PM

Posted by: CE | January 8, 2008 12:59 PM | Report abuse

CE, what makes you enjoy watching it? not trying to be confrontational at all, just trying to understand where you're coming from.

personally, i want to watch a team that's competitive day in and day out. and over a period of time (years, thinking long-term). i'd prefer winning records, of course, but, as has been intimated by those on both sides of the discussion, even the best teams can have "one of those years" and the worst can have "ONE OF THOSE YEARS!" (or, in the case of the nats, one of those *half* years in early 05).

and when we have one of the lower case "one of those years," i want to at least see the light at the end of the tunnel. not sure we're quite at that point with this team, but i at least feel we're making headway, considering what MLB did to scuttle the organization and how much of a rebuilding effort was needed off the major league playing field.

for what it's worth, i think next off-season (maybe the 08 trading deadline) and the 09 season will be far more telling about this team on the field than any FA signings this year.

Posted by: 231 (other 506) | January 8, 2008 1:09 PM | Report abuse

"Could I maybe persuade you the Post has some roses to go with its thorns, too, since we're on a roll with this agreeing thing."

No. Haven't seen much about baseball from the Post lately, aside from Clemens steroids "news". Boswell has spent the last six months discovering he doesn't know squat about football. (I had to laugh reading his column this morning, since not only was it delusional in its entirety, every single sentence if taken in isolation was equally delusional on its own. I suppose though it does take some talent to do that.) Sheinin has been MIA since the Mitchell report hullabaloo. And the vaunted Svrluga? All he has done lately is spawn pointless payroll arguments on his blog. I'm with JayB on this. Where's the coverage of players coming back from injury, where's the coverage of what they're doing to try to turn Dukes around, where's the occasional human-interest story about a Nats player, stuff like that? Hell, we now know all about how a journeyman QB who hadn't played a game in 10 years and who may never play a game here in town again is a collector of fine wines. When has there ever been such information published in the Post about similarly obscure Nats players? Hell, if you believe the photo caption in the Metro section a while ago, Dmitri Young is a former National. Maybe that's why they don't write about the players - they're still trying to figure out who they are.

No, with the 43% price increase for a copy of the Post, I'd say the coverage is not better at all. It's actually worse.

Posted by: Section 419+1 | January 8, 2008 1:11 PM | Report abuse

"I think institutionalized mediocrity is not worth watching."

Posted by: CE | January 8, 2008 12:59 PM
_________________
CE: I don't think either record reflects institutionalized mediocrity.

I would argue that from a bigger picture. Even with "lowered expectations", the 2007 team still gave great us great baseball to watch.

You can have an AWESOME game with electric plays and knot-in-your stomach tension, still lose, and you leave the game feeling like you just saw some great baseball. I remember several of them in 2007.

On paper you might call the 2007 team mediocre, but just because the record showed more losses than you liked, they were definitely still "worth watching."

Posted by: NatsNut | January 8, 2008 1:20 PM | Report abuse

Don't forget that he also likes to smell things.

Posted by: Section 506 (Before moving) | January 8, 2008 1:21 PM | Report abuse

Oops. My last sentence didn't make sense.

Read: ....just because the record showed more losses than you liked, DOESN'T MEAN THEY WEREN'T still "worth watching."

Posted by: NatsNut | January 8, 2008 1:23 PM | Report abuse

I'll give you one reason that the Nationals need to increase payroll. The continuing upwards trend of ticket prices. In my section prices have now gone up fully 33% since year 1.
2005: $40/seat/game
2006: $45/seat/game
2007: $50/seat/game
2008: $60!!!/seat/game (while getting pushed back a section and 15 rows from my seats in RFK. F-ing disgrace but a different issue)

To say nothing of the increasing costs of parking each year at rfk, and the utter lack of any parking or any semblance of a transportation plan for the new stadium in 2008.

For this continued upwards trend of ticket prices, we've gotten the following performance and team payroll expenditures:
- 2005: 23rd ranked payroll of $48M, 81-81 but blatant lack of movement at trade deadline by MLB-owned team
- 2006: 20th ranked payroll of $63M (of course, Soriano, Livan and Vidro accounted for $25M of it, or fully 40%). Team goes 71-91 and dumps all their veterans at trade deadline (with the exception of the one guy they should have traded Soriano).
- 2007: 28th ranked payroll of $37.3M opening day payroll and the team improves 2 games to 73-89 with sustained 2nd half play.
- 2008 estimate of $53M, still ranked probably between 24-26th in the majors.

So while payroll has gone down and the team blatantly gave up on 2007, our prices kept rising? I can NOT believe we're not in the $80M range of payroll going into a brand new stadium that was basically GIVEN to the team by the city. $30M a year more is what I think this team should be spending to justify increased consumer costs and their status as being in the 4th largest consumer market in the USA.

$30M year. How about $18M/year for a top end pitcher and another $10-12M year for a premier hitter. How about *anyone* that can guarantee hit more than 30hrs a year. We were dead last in the NL in home runs, and you can't blame it all on the park (see Soriano, 2006).

I somewhat buy the arguments put forth generally: that the FA market for pitchers was bad, that all FAs are overpriced, and even normal FA buyers (Yankees, Mets, RedSox) are keeping prospects and playing it smart. I even somewhat buy the argument that the Nationals are saving their money in 2008 because the park should sell itself, and they'll go after premier FAs for 2009 and 2010 to go with their young players coming up. But I think they should have made more moves this off season.

I still think they should make moves. Package up Lopez and two bullpen guys (maybe Cordero and Colome) for a starter and a backup infielder. That solves a lot of problems right away.

my 2 cents.

Posted by: Sec131 | January 8, 2008 1:35 PM | Report abuse

I am willing to wait another year, although I say again that it wouldn't hurt to spend some more on a decent veteran pitcher to make the team more interesting this year. However, I don't think the Lerners can wait much beyond this year.

If you follow what baseball writers say about the TB Rays, you know that they have been predicting the Rays to break out and compete for 3 or 4 years now. By stinking for so long, Tampa Bay has stockpiled young talent. However, the projected time for their greatness keeps being projected into the future, because they continue to have the worst record in baseball, never winning more than 70 games.

I am glad the Nats have included trades in their development plans. Stan Kasten has hinted that as the team gets closer, the Nats would consider trading for players that other teams want to dump because of big salaries. When I start seeing that, I will know that The Plan has entered the next phase, and I won't fear the Nats becoming Tampa Bay.

Posted by: Five more weeks | January 8, 2008 1:39 PM | Report abuse

sigh

Posted by: Anonymous | January 8, 2008 1:41 PM | Report abuse

419, I've got to say that it is a bit frustrating to see you repeatedly take shots at me and others on this issue by making generalized assertions about people wanting a big payroll for the sake of a big payroll, and then not respond to any of the specific points that are raised.

You said that the '08 Nats "are respectable by any definition of the term." Again, I ask, is a starting rotation where not a single one of the 5 pitchers has ever won 10 games or thrown 200 innings in a season the "definition of" respectability? In my opinion, what it is is a recipe for (1) ultimately blowing out the bullpen, which would in fact undermine the Plan, and (2) potentially setting back the development of a young starter who is in over his head in the big leagues and should be developing patiently in the minors, which would also undermine the Plan.

Posted by: Coverage is lacking | January 8, 2008 1:46 PM | Report abuse

snark snark snark, snarkedy snark snark snark.

Posted by: Anonymous | January 8, 2008 2:00 PM | Report abuse

Good points, Five More (Kevin?), but one important thing to keep in mind.

Tampa Bay = AL East
Nationals = Not AL East

Posted by: Section 506 (Before moving) | January 8, 2008 2:07 PM | Report abuse

So Goose Gossage got the call from the Hall. No dice for Rice or the Hawk. Thoughts?

Posted by: Bob L. Head | January 8, 2008 2:22 PM | Report abuse

one more difference btwn the bottom-feeder rays and the nats: the rays were famous for never making a trade (mostly because wanted A level prospects for B level players), while bowden has a rep for shuffling players.

too lazy to look who said it above, but i'll agree that one key to determining whether the lerners/kasten will appropriately spend on players in the mid- to long-term is whether they make prospect for established player trades in 12-24 months as "The Plan [tm]" starts to come to fruition and prospects are arriving from the past few drafts (and restocking trades). if they shy away from taking on $$ contracts in trade (or offseason FA in the future), then i'll start to slide into the "half empty" camp as far as payroll spending goes.

Posted by: 231 (other 506) | January 8, 2008 2:30 PM | Report abuse

Well, seems the Plan is under much scrutiny. Well, it is what it is. The Plan is what we thought it would be. An earlier poster said that perhaps in August, depending on how the team develops this season, a trade could happen. Maybe so, as long as it does not derail the Plan. This current group of Nats just might surprise us all. I think they'll show improvement this season. As far as obtaining a FA pitcher, such as Colon, I'm glad they didn't go there as he is over the hill. Now that would have been a waste of $$. Now maybe I'm over optomistic, but I have a hunch that J.P. will be healthy this season. Guzman showed what he can do in his brief healthy stint last season, and a healthy Johnson can't hurt. They're overdue for some luck in the health/injury department. As an old song up the road once proclaimed, perhaps it's time for some Nationals Magic.

Posted by: SC Nats Fan | January 8, 2008 2:32 PM | Report abuse

i'm all for the 'reclamation' pitcher, but i'd prefer a jennings (younger) than a colon (older, not much future (and also held out of his last two winter league starts)).

Posted by: 231 (other 506) | January 8, 2008 2:37 PM | Report abuse

What SC Nats Fan means is, they are who we thought they were.

Posted by: Section 506 (Before moving) | January 8, 2008 2:39 PM | Report abuse

Mark Lerner, May 9, 2007: "We will take ourselves to another level," said Lerner, one of the team's principal owners. "We are going to dip into the free-agent market this winter."

SC, what is the Plan, exactly? What did you think it would be? A commitment by the Nats not to care about winning until pitchers drafted in '07 are ready to win on the big-league level? The Plan is not just whatever the Nats' ownership decides to do, after-the-fact. In my view, the Plan is the long-range and sustained development of talent. I actually don't see anyone here even scrutinizing that approach. But following the Plan doesn't mean that the Nats couldn't have also taken it to "another level" in '08 and tried at least to field a competitive team for this coming year. This is what Lerner recognized last Spring and said they would do. Now, by trotting out a AAAA starting staff for the second season in a row, it looks like the Nats have abandoned that goal. Who knows why? That is the decision that is rightly being scrutinized.
*******
Well, seems the Plan is under much scrutiny. Well, it is what it is. The Plan is what we thought it would be.

Posted by: SC Nats Fan | January 8, 2008 02:32 PM

Posted by: Coverage is lacking | January 8, 2008 3:00 PM | Report abuse

Bummer on Jim Rice (what would you expect from me).

This was a lousy year for free agents, with only CF having some depth. On strictly a baseball level, I think the acquisition of Milledge and Dukes was preferable to shelling out money for most of the FA CFs that were on the market. Both can play CF. I am not saying, 1 at bat or 1 fly ball today for the fate of the world, I would not prefer to see Torii Hunter. It is just reasonable projections of decline with age made most of those signings not smart for the Nats. LAD is in a different position than we are, so Jones made some sense for them. If Milledge alone pans out, having him cost controlled for another 5 years will add a lot to competitiveness. Same for Dukes.

People have argued "we need a veteran innings eater." I'm in the camp of saying none were out there. I am neither a Lohse nor Silva fan, and think Livo would give you below league average performance when he is out there based on his age and performance the past 2 years. Clement / Colon / Jennings would not be "innings eaters" due to their recent injury and performance history. May be worth a shot, but only as cheap gambles.

The AAAA rotation? Maybe you would have said that at the start of '07, but, of JP-Hill-Bergmann-Lannan-Chico, I can only see one marginal guy. The health history of the top 2 is what makes them an issue, but their stuff is not AAAA. And no one really thinks Detwiler and Balester are AAAA guys, and those are 2 of your 3 fill ins (Redding is AAAA, I/M/O, but he literally fits in as a replacement player).

Maybe the only viable way to have added a pitcher would have been to take back a bad contract, but I did not see many of those deals out there this winter. The Willis deal involved a contender who gave quality prospects we don't have yet at a high level, and the Garland deal was for an All Star shortstop.

Bottom line is I just don't see a high price player who was available and should have been brought on this year.

Posted by: jon | January 8, 2008 3:04 PM | Report abuse

as long as they stay away from my fastball...
********
What SC Nats Fan means is, they are who we thought they were.

Posted by: Section 506 (Before moving) | January 8, 2008 02:39 PM

Posted by: yecch. eeeww. | January 8, 2008 3:06 PM | Report abuse

some of us have postulated theories as to why...

some (not all) in the glass-half-empty camp have decided to call the lerners/kasten "cheap" and claim they won't put the money they're making back into the team.

some in the glass-half-full camp (myself included) have said that the vast majority of the FA pitchers out there just weren't worth the $$ and contract lengths being thrown at them, at least not for the nats as currently configured. there were/are a few reclamation guys out there worth kicking the tires on, and to some extent, the club has done that. altho, to be fair, we don't know how serious they were on the guys already signed. and there are still a couple of them out there (at least two of which the club has shown some level of interest: jennings and bensen).

i think there's not much chance the two camps will come together on a consensus of which is right.

as far as m lerner's comment, it could just be that it was a naive comment of a new owner with regard to "the plan [tm]" and the reality of what would be available this offseason and what the contract terms would be. not saying it definitely is, but it could be.

Posted by: 231 (other 506) | January 8, 2008 3:08 PM | Report abuse

Perhaps I am stating the obvious here (and not really advocating any particular school of thought), but...

There are other considerations when negotiating a contract that might prevent the Nats from signing someone they're pursuing... most notably the term. If the Nats think they have pitchers that are a year out (Detwiler) you might not want to sign an older FA pitcher to a multi-year deal... and a competing team might be willing to offer that... and hence land the player. Why take a one year contract when you can get two (or more)?

Knowing Bowden as I imagine that I do, I can't believe that he doesn't make an offer to almost every free agent that fits the basic needs of the Nats.

Posted by: Wigi | January 8, 2008 3:23 PM | Report abuse

"419, I've got to say that it is a bit frustrating to see you repeatedly take shots at me and others on this issue by making generalized assertions about people wanting a big payroll for the sake of a big payroll, and then not respond to any of the specific points that are raised.

You said that the '08 Nats "are respectable by any definition of the term." Again, I ask, is a starting rotation where not a single one of the 5 pitchers has ever won 10 games or thrown 200 innings in a season the "definition of" respectability? In my opinion, what it is is a recipe for (1) ultimately blowing out the bullpen, which would in fact undermine the Plan, and (2) potentially setting back the development of a young starter who is in over his head in the big leagues and should be developing patiently in the minors, which would also undermine the Plan."

Oh, right. No pitchers in 2007 who had ever won 10 games or thrown 200 innings. And none of them did it in 2007, either. Yet somehow the team won 73 games and stayed out of last place. And was the bullpen blown out? No. Was the development of any young starter hindered? Gee, no. Indeed one of them (Chico) developed quite well pitching in the big leagues.

You know that old saying in the financial world about past results not being predictive of future performance? It's true in baseball as well, perhaps more so. You sound like your definition of "respectable" is based entirely on looking at resumes of players, the more padded the better. Well, to a great extent that's what the Nats FO has been doing too - looking at players' resumes and deciding which are worth trying to acquire. Of course price plays into it, as it does with everything in life, but I see no evidence that it's a major criterion in the decisions made by the team. Obviously you differ with their approach, but you know what? If your baseball knowledge was good enough to make better judgments than the Nats FO, why surely some team would have snapped you up to work as their own GM by now, wouldn't they?

Posted by: Section 419+1 | January 8, 2008 3:40 PM | Report abuse

"I would argue that from a bigger picture. Even with "lowered expectations", the 2007 team still gave great us great baseball to watch."
--
I don't think so. Maybe that's just me.

"You can have an AWESOME game with electric plays and knot-in-your stomach tension, still lose, and you leave the game feeling like you just saw some great baseball. I remember several of them in 2007."
--
That's true, you can. I remember only a few. Again, maybe that's just me.

"On paper you might call the 2007 team mediocre, but just because the record showed more losses than you liked, they were definitely still 'worth watching.'"
--
I didn't mean to call them mediocre on paper, I meant they were mediocre on the field. As in not very good, with a few exceptions. I know I tuned out a lot, or listened to Charlie and Dave only because they could keep it interesting. And that was *not* just me.

Being in contention, or not, does make a difference. Playing games that are meaningful for more than schadenfreude does make a difference. I don't get knots in my stomach over whether they finish with 75 or 77 wins.

And again, for the record, I don't care how much they spend. It's not the payroll, it's the players.

The players are out there. *In hindsight*, we could easily name the If-We'd-Only-Known Nine. (Starting 1B gotta be Dmitri.) Maybe Patterson and Milledge and Dukes and Lo Duca will be on that list this time next year, who knows? But the players ARE out there. It's wrong to say they aren't. And it's defeatist to say the FO can't possibly know who they are. Bowden and Kasten both think they know at least a few, I'm sure.
The 2008 team isn't formed yet, and they are certainly not standing pat with last year's roster, so I can wait and see what happens. But the last 2 years smelled like stalling, to me.

Posted by: CE | January 8, 2008 3:44 PM | Report abuse

"I'll give you one reason that the Nationals need to increase payroll. The continuing upwards trend of ticket prices. In my section prices have now gone up fully 33% since year 1.
2005: $40/seat/game
2006: $45/seat/game
2007: $50/seat/game
2008: $60!!!/seat/game (while getting pushed back a section and 15 rows from my seats in RFK. F-ing disgrace but a different issue)....

So while payroll has gone down and the team blatantly gave up on 2007, our prices kept rising? I can NOT believe we're not in the $80M range of payroll going into a brand new stadium that was basically GIVEN to the team by the city. $30M a year more is what I think this team should be spending to justify increased consumer costs and their status as being in the 4th largest consumer market in the USA."

By this logic, if they simply took $30M, divvied it up and handed it out equally to everyone currently on the 25-man roster, all would be right in the world, eh?

Talking about what the team should or shouldn't be doing in terms of payroll makes absolutely no sense. One can legitimately argue that the team needs more starting pitching, or a better middle infield or whatever to really contend for a division title. But it's not as if they can just walk down to the store, plunk down X million bucks and buy those things, can they? The only players they can buy directly are free agents, and that crop is limited. Trades can bring players, but for that you need another team to agree to work with you - and there's no evidence at all that trades aren't constantly being pursued. Rumors abound, but even then some trades (like Schneider/Church for Milledge) just seem to pop up out of the blue. There had to have been lots of back-and-forth going on for those trades to happen, even though it somehow managed to remain under the radar. If they weren't trying to build a respectable team, they'd never have bothered with that effort, would they?

So it's really nothing more than a cheap shot or an ad hominem attack for anyone to accuse the ownership of not being willing to spend the money to field a respectable team. Personally, I don't see how anyone making that kind of argument could have any claim to holding the high ground in this discussion.

Posted by: Section 419+1 | January 8, 2008 4:02 PM | Report abuse

I'm gonna go ahead and put this out there, but want everyone to understand that I DON'T THINK YOU HAVE TO AGREE.

Agree?

I'm going to be a huge fan of this team regardless of what management does, because it's my team and my town. It's where I'm from, so if the Plan blows up and we are losers forever, so be it.

And I'm a baseball fan, so I'm never going to be a fan in the mode of a Caps/Bullets-Wizards or (shudder) Mystics/United fan ("Oh they won? Yay."). I abandoned the O's, but I'm not from Baltimore and don't feel a loyalty connection (though I say "Bal'mora" to annoy my Cubs-fan girlfriend). The difference between 85 wins and 65 wins, for me, is a dozen more nights in front of the TV.

The only thing that concerns me is that the Lerners could screw it up so badly that the team would leave town again. And I don't think one or two or ten seasons would make a difference there if they're making money off the property -- which they will, it's the closest nightlife spot-to-be to Virginia.

Wrong to play Armchair GM? Never! Go right ahead. But I guess, Coverage, I'm trying to explain why I just can't get worked up about the product on the field outside of a fit of passion in a game against Philly.

Posted by: Section 506 (Before moving) | January 8, 2008 4:03 PM | Report abuse

I would think that the same could be said of every armchair GM on this or any other blog or forum.

---

If your baseball knowledge was good enough to make better judgments than the Nats FO, why surely some team would have snapped you up to work as their own GM by now, wouldn't they?

Posted by: natsfan1a | January 8, 2008 4:26 PM | Report abuse

I was offered the GM job by MLB, actually, back in 2005, but I turned it down to spend more time with my family.

The real problem is that my commentary stank too much to get paid by a network to second-guess on the public airwaves - thus my consignment to this blog.

Posted by: Section 506 (Before moving) | January 8, 2008 4:29 PM | Report abuse

Now we know 506...now we know, and are forever grateful of your decision. whew

Posted by: SC Nats Fan | January 8, 2008 4:32 PM | Report abuse

Love it!

---

I was offered the GM job by MLB, actually, back in 2005, but I turned it down to spend more time with my family.

The real problem is that my commentary stank too much to get paid by a network to second-guess on the public airwaves - thus my consignment to this blog.

Posted by: natsfan1a | January 8, 2008 4:34 PM | Report abuse

If I had been GM, A-Rod, Beckett, Ramirez, and Willie Mays would all being wearing Nationals uniforms today.

Also, beer would be cheaper and we'd have world peace. Did I mention beer would be cheaper?

Posted by: Section 506 (Before moving) | January 8, 2008 4:45 PM | Report abuse

419, let's cool it with the "If your baseball knowledge was good enough to make better judgments than the Nats FO" kind of talk, ok? I don't think that is going to get us anywhere productive. If it were a fair argument, then all of us posters should probably just pack it in and stop critiquing the Nats. As I said way earlier in this thread, take those kind of posts to bpg if you want a receptive audience for them.

If you want to laud the Nats as being "competitive" in 2007 for finishing with 73 wins and finishing ahead of the Marlins, by all means, go for it. I have higher expectations, and I think we all should. As to blowing out the bullpen, you are right that no one appears to have blown out in '07, but bullpens do blow out over time. That's just a fact, and I think the Nats are tempting fate by setting them up to be overworked year after year. And as for Chico, if you really believe it was better for his development for him to be in DC last year than in Harrisburg or Columbus, we will just have to disagree on that one.

Posted by: Coverage is lacking | January 8, 2008 4:50 PM | Report abuse

506, I understand where you are coming from, and I appreciate the way you put it.

Here's my quick take on it, and I guess the distinction that separates us on this point. I too am going to be a fan forever, no matter what happens. But I want them to win (no, not necessarily today, but in a few years for sure, and regularly). And by extension, I want them to be popular, so that the Nats permeate the mindset of DC, and our home town becomes a baseball town where they don't laugh at the Nats on sports radio and the nightly news, and largely ignore it in the Post (I had to get that last point in there for your benefit :-)). My concern is that the Lerner/Kasten regime is not taking the steps they should be taking now to make that happen and that by extension will help to fill the ballpark, which will give them more money down the road to lock up all the great young talent that the Plan will hopefully produce.

******
I'm going to be a huge fan of this team regardless of what management does, because it's my team and my town. It's where I'm from, so if the Plan blows up and we are losers forever, so be it.

And I'm a baseball fan, so I'm never going to be a fan in the mode of a Caps/Bullets-Wizards or (shudder) Mystics/United fan ("Oh they won? Yay."). I abandoned the O's, but I'm not from Baltimore and don't feel a loyalty connection (though I say "Bal'mora" to annoy my Cubs-fan girlfriend). The difference between 85 wins and 65 wins, for me, is a dozen more nights in front of the TV.

The only thing that concerns me is that the Lerners could screw it up so badly that the team would leave town again. And I don't think one or two or ten seasons would make a difference there if they're making money off the property -- which they will, it's the closest nightlife spot-to-be to Virginia.

Wrong to play Armchair GM? Never! Go right ahead. But I guess, Coverage, I'm trying to explain why I just can't get worked up about the product on the field outside of a fit of passion in a game against Philly.

Posted by: Section 506 (Before moving) | January 8, 2008 04:03 PM

Posted by: Coverage is lacking | January 8, 2008 5:00 PM | Report abuse

"If you want to laud the Nats as being "competitive" in 2007 for finishing with 73 wins and finishing ahead of the Marlins, by all means, go for it. I have higher expectations, and I think we all should."

Nothing wrong with having high expectations, unless they get so high that one is basically delusional. Unfortunately for all of us with high expectations, baseball is played in the real world, not the delusional world. That's why I at least try to keep my expectations as high as they can be within the bounds of reality. Others don't, I guess.

"As to blowing out the bullpen, you are right that no one appears to have blown out in '07, but bullpens do blow out over time. That's just a fact, and I think the Nats are tempting fate by setting them up to be overworked year after year."

Just as they would also be tempting fate by hiring high-priced older or injury-recovering starters and possibly blowing them out. MLB contracts are guaranteed, so if you sign someone to a multi-year deal and he blows out in year one, you're still paying him down the road. It's a crapshoot one way or the other.

"And as for Chico, if you really believe it was better for his development for him to be in DC last year than in Harrisburg or Columbus, we will just have to disagree on that one."

I would say we should just wait and see how he turns out long-term, and then we'll know. But we certainly know now that almost a full year in the majors last year didn't hurt his development any, so worst case it was a wash having him pitch in DC last year. He didn't embarass himself or the team, did he?

Posted by: Section 419+1 | January 8, 2008 5:04 PM | Report abuse

Its great to see all this passion about the Nats, even in the offseason.

I am really in agreement with Wigi on his posts. However, I'd like to offer the following perspective.

When discussing potential starting pitchers that we could get to come here, we also need to look at who in the rotation they would replace. So, who do we replace? Hill and Bergmann looked VERY good when healthy last year and both seem to be on track for full health by spring training. Chico, Lannan, Redding and Patterson, all give me reason to think that they can be solid members of the staff. Detwiler, Balester and Clippard are all players I'd like to see get some time in the bigs this year. With that said, which starting FA pitchers would I replace any of them with? I might have taken a stab at one of the pitchers who have had success in the past, but have been injured, like Prior, Jennings or Clement. However, I would not give innings to someone like Livo whose numbers since he left here are not very impressive (2006 13-13 4.83 ERA and 2007 11-11 4.93 ERA). Much of the arguement for Livo is that he eats innings up. Great, but he is not part of a winning future here in DC. The yound pitchers above might be. Having them pitch in the bigs, with similar results, gives them a chance to see what they can do in the majors, just like JMaxx did last year on a short term basis. We all loved that! Essentially, having a Livo in the rotation extends either the success process or weeding out process for our young pitchers, with similar on field results. Remember, we have full control of these young pithcers for many years. Even signing a Mark Prior to a similar contract that he signed only gives you 1 year. If he makes it, and thats a big if, he can sign with whomever he wants the following year. I'd be much happier signing a Chris Benson or Jason Jennings to 1 year deal with club options. Question is, would they sign that kind of deal?

Regardless, I think that the Plan is on its way and working. Bowden is the right GM for a team that needs to be creative and has very few assets to trade. And why pay a Torii Hunter $18M / year for the 2-3 years that you know that he will not put you in contention? That is what a big FA signing would do now.

I do have to say, I was happy when I heard that they might try to sign Glavine to be a player/coach type guy. We do need that kind of positive vetean influence in the bullpen.

Posted by: John Section 129 | January 8, 2008 5:13 PM | Report abuse

To quote a famous coach "WE PLAY TO WIN THE GAME".

Most FO's around the league believe this. Sportman who own teams do this by spending money on player.

Yes, the Rockies made it to the World Series, but $143m v $54m was not very pretty.

The Nats need to compete with Philly, Mets and Marlins, all flawed teams. Because of this combined mediocrity the Nats probably won't have to worry about 100 loses unless there is a major series of injuries (See 2007 season). The goal this year should be to get seasoned enough players that can put two good half seasons together in one season. A good start in April is key to this team's success. So prudent spending (near to where your immediate competion is spending) should be the long term expectation from the Nat's FO. By the why should the team make commitments to players before it knows what kind of players are going to thrive at the new stadium? It will take at least one season to determine.

I would like to see the team get out from the Angelos handcuffs called MASN and control its own broadcasting rights so they can generate the funds needed to compete for premier FA's. We know Kasten understands this constaint and are led to believe he is trying to get a better deal.

But, this all brings us back to the Plan, the Plan, the Plan. So far no one has been injured by it. The team is still in DC so why not give it the two more years that Kasten asked for before we scrap it. The potential long term continuos success far outweighs any bump a short term fix might create.

Play Ball!

Posted by: Tom | January 8, 2008 5:16 PM | Report abuse

"Nothing wrong with having high expectations, unless they get so high that one is basically delusional. Unfortunately for all of us with high expectations, baseball is played in the real world, not the delusional world. That's why I at least try to keep my expectations as high as they can be within the bounds of reality. Others don't, I guess."

If the "bounds of reality" for some reason limited the Lerners to having the 3rd-lowest payroll in baseball last year, then I guess you are right that it is delusional to have expected more than 73 wins. "Thank you, Stan, can I have another?"

"Just as they would also be tempting fate by hiring high-priced older or injury-recovering starters and possibly blowing them out. MLB contracts are guaranteed, so if you sign someone to a multi-year deal and he blows out in year one, you're still paying him down the road. It's a crapshoot one way or the other."

But a high-priced older or injury-recovering starter isn't part of "the Plan," so if he blows out, what's the harm? Presumably Cordero, Rauch, Ayala, Rivera are part of the Plan, so if they blow out, the Plan is set back.

"I would say we should just wait and see how he turns out long-term, and then we'll know. But we certainly know now that almost a full year in the majors last year didn't hurt his development any, so worst case it was a wash having him pitch in DC last year. He didn't embarass himself or the team, did he?"

No, we never will know, because we never will know how Chico would have turned out long-term had he spent all of last season in AA or AAA. I would argue that throwing 5 innings or less in half of one's starts is not the best way for a 23 year-old pitcher to develop, but that's just me. And he was sent down too, let's not forget.

Posted by: Coverage is lacking | January 8, 2008 5:23 PM | Report abuse

Sorry to mix it up yall, but after a little side research project this afternoon I've got my own "commitment to winning" issue. I am a full season ticket holder with 2 seats in 105 row B. Going through stubhub today I saw that a TON of game tickets available through there in row A of several sections. How many of yall back in the summer ranked "closest to the field" highest on the ticket checklist only to not get row A or B. Initially I was put in row G, but after talking to my ticket rep. there were seats available in row B for the same seating category (another issue entirely, we won't go into relocation instead focus on reselling). Now for 2 kids (my girlfriend and me) right out of college in entry-level jobs full-season tickets is a huge chunk of cash even if they are only the $25/per seats and not the $50/per and we're being pushed to the side for some professional broker. C'mon Stan, track down these seats that habitually show up on Stubhub and ebay....call 'em up and tell them thanks but no thanks.

No disrespect to yall reclaiming the glory of Griffith and the Senators, god bless yall; however, the young crowd in this town is who this team needs to market themselves. We're very similar in many aspects: young in a new atmosphere, trying to get established in a world of big spending and superstars. I apologize, this post has gone away from the initial purpose but I just had to let off some steam.

Posted by: Corey | January 8, 2008 5:31 PM | Report abuse

You can forget about the Nats doing anything about scalpers and brokers. They are just not interested. I emailed Stan about this issue, and he edigned it worthy enough to have one of his minions responds to my query. But my response was obviously a form letter and didn't address the issue of scalping - it encouraged me to resell my tickets through "My Nationals Tickets" or to use StubHub, a partner of MLB and the Nationals.

When I responed that he missed the point, he never responded. The Nats and their "World Class customer service" still have miles to go to get there.

Posted by: AlexVA | January 8, 2008 5:39 PM | Report abuse

Those ticket resellers took the gamble back in 2005 and jumped in very early to buy lots of seats, and apparently good seats, giving them high priority in the relocation process. (At least those that stuck it out while surely having to eat a lot of tickets in 2006 and 2007, anyway.) They figured out how to play the questionnaire to get good seats in the new park, which they are now reselling. I don't like that, but until some evidence comes to light that shows they got some special favors during relocation that other STHers didn't get, I figure that there's not much that you, I, or even Stan Kasten can do about it, is there? Those folks are indeed STHers just like the rest of us, except that they're pond scum who resell their tickets. But as far as the team is concerned, they've paid their bills on time so there's no reason to not treat them as equals to those of us who actually use our tickets ourselves. There's no law against reselling tickets, after all.

Posted by: Section 419+1 | January 8, 2008 5:46 PM | Report abuse

419: "By this logic, if they simply took $30M, divvied it up and handed it out equally to everyone currently on the 25-man roster, all would be right in the world, eh?"

You are arguing with phantoms. Nobody on this board has suggested spending money just for the sake of raising payroll. Spend more time reading the posts you are responding to and your understanding of others opinions should improve.

Posted by: PowerBoater69 | January 8, 2008 5:57 PM | Report abuse

somewhat new angle on this topic:

I'm posting a link to a discussion on Sons of Sam Horn that discusses predicting payroll for MLB teams. It's put together by Eric Van, a stat geek who worked his way into the Red Sox front office by being very, very good and creative. From looking at 2 or 3 critical factors he can account for 70% (or 78%) of a teams projected payroll. Two critical factors include media market size and number of years the team has been in the current market. From a Nats perspective, it suggests last year's payroll might have been about $10 million light. By his formula, he projected about $47.5 million. You figure that is probably closer to $49 million given the extra year now. That is darn close to Barry's projected $53 million. Overinvestment and under investment (the remaining 20 - 30%) in payroll may relate to intensity of support. I'd imagine Nats have a kick up in that unexplained. So, by his work, the Nats probably have close to an average modelled payroll. He never completely refined his model, but refernces a Nate Silver piece that also looks at modelling payroll.

http://sonsofsamhorn.net/index.php?showtopic=25004&st=0

The length of time factor intuitively makes sense and is consistent with "The Plan." A moved team probably has not been organizationally healthy in its old locale, so will need to rebuild. If you build through the Kasten model, you will gradually expand payroll as you idenitfy guys you want to sign long term and then fill in gaps. Perhaps the Nats have just been following middle of the road mainstream organizational building in their use of budget.

Posted by: jon | January 8, 2008 6:02 PM | Report abuse

"As to how my assertion that trying to field a competitive team now won't undermine the Plan is remarkable, by all means, please explain. I don't think signing Matt Clement, say, or Bartolo Colon to a 1 or 2 year contract would hurt the Plan in any way. Do you? How?"

Thanks for clarifying. As it happens, some ways back on this thread I kind of bandied the idea of considering Colon, but didn't get much response.

My prime concern is that, even given that such signings could be wise -- from the viewpoint of drawing power, for which there is something to be said, if not for long-term team building -- they will still cost money that arguably could be spent elsewhere. Particularly on replenishing a farm system that is still woefully attenuated thanks to MLB ownership.

A secondary concern is that there are posters who express a dim *personal* view of those of us who advocate -- oh, call it what you will; frugality, perhaps, or a conservative use of resources. It wouldn't hurt to amp that kind of talk down just a notch, and to keep the discussion on the issues. Of which there are plenty (marketing being my personal hobbyhorse, not that that's on topic for this thread).

Apropos of the issues, I suspect there are many who, like Sec131, are feeling ill-used because they are spending big bucks and not seeing the return. I'm spending a third of what Sec131 is spending, so perhaps that poster's arguments should carry three times as much weight as mine. They surely do need to carry some weight -- and more than 2 cents' worth.

Posted by: Hendo | January 8, 2008 6:05 PM | Report abuse

Hendo, I hear your point, but I don't believe that there is any evidence that money "not spent" on big league payroll is being plowed into minor league signings or development in any significant way. If there is such evidence, I would certainly hope that Barry would report on it. But things like shelling out for McGeary (which I applaud the Nats for) are not, in the grand scheme of things, the type of additional expenditures that would require big league payroll to be pared back significantly. I agree with you that there's no question that the Nats' farm system is still woefully attenuated. But every team budgets for minor league development. And if the Nats' annual development budget is oh, I don't know, let's say $10 million, $20 million, $30 million more than other teams', I would certainly like to know that, but we've never had that kind of thing reported. And anyway, I don't think that could be the case, because I think it is hard to even make incremental expenditures to that extent on the farm system.

Posted by: Coverage is lacking | January 8, 2008 6:36 PM | Report abuse

to be fair, since it hasn't been reported, you don't know they *AREN'T* doing it, either. and it's not just shelling into the minor league system. it's hiring new scouts, building infrastructure (like the computers that loria took with him to florida), putting together scouting and development programs in south/central america and asia, etc.

now, i have no proof they are, either, and it sure would be interesting to know more about what they're doing to rebuild infrastructure (we can definitely agree on that point, probably all of us).

i guess my point is that speculation that the owners are lining their pockets with that money isn't any more valid than speculation that they are pumping it back into the team somewhere other than major league payroll.

Posted by: 231 (other 506) | January 8, 2008 7:01 PM | Report abuse

OK, lets ask Barry if he will get back with the Journal/WAPO with an update on what exactly is being done in the system to enhance the future as compared to other organizations. Thats a fair question and one I would hope the Nats would be more than willing to come clean on, if everything is on the up and up. With the city businesses and taxpayers fronting most of the stadium costs, they should feel obligated to keep the fans informed just how they're spending to upgrade everything to include scouting, developement, etc.

Posted by: SC Nats Fan | January 8, 2008 7:11 PM | Report abuse

"And if the Nats' annual development budget is oh, I don't know, let's say $10 million, $20 million, $30 million more than other teams', I would certainly like to know that, but we've never had that kind of thing reported."

Well, there've been some fancy signing bonuses. Still, I grant that it'd be nice to hear what's being spent on the farm as well as in the Caribbean, Asia, etc. -- both as a part of the total development budget as well as vis-a-vis other teams' spending. Maybe the Nats feel they need to keep these numbers a deep, dark secret from other teams, but that leaves us only to speculate.

"And anyway, I don't think that could be the case, because I think it is hard to even make incremental expenditures to that extent on the farm system."

That could be seen as an indirect point in *favor* of signing free agents. Shelling out pure bucks for other teams' prospects isn't a terrifically viable option, whereas FAs can be traded to contending teams midseason, and losing FAs gets you draft picks.

On the other hand, teams have got shy of making splashy FA trades near the deadline; one wonders to what degree that has been entering into the Nats' (and some other teams') free-agent hesitancy this offseason.

Posted by: Hendo | January 8, 2008 7:12 PM | Report abuse

Hello Barry?

Is anyone there working on Baseball?

Is there any chance the Wpost will ever do any reporting on these issues? Please.....

Posted by: JayB | January 8, 2008 7:21 PM | Report abuse

"OK, lets ask Barry if he will get back with the Journal/WAPO with an update on what exactly is being done in the system to enhance the future as compared to other organizations."

You can ask Barry if you want, but let me predict that he won't do this. That would smack of actual comprehensive coverage of the team on a year-round, on- and off-the-field basis. The Post doesn't do that for any sports team except for the Redskins - although it should.

Besides, Barry is gearing up for the Olympics, and the Post is gearing up to have the likes of Eli Saslow covering the Nationals from the visitors' locker room while he's gone. But cheer up, the paper only costs 15 cents more a day than it did last year. And at least for now, you can still read it for free on the web. Let me predict: That will change, and probably sooner rather than later.

Posted by: Section 419+1 | January 8, 2008 7:23 PM | Report abuse

419! Finally something we can agree on!!!

Well done....

Posted by: JayB | January 8, 2008 7:51 PM | Report abuse

Better throw some meat, Barry, they're getting the pitchforks and torches ...

Posted by: Anonymous | January 8, 2008 9:19 PM | Report abuse

Nevermind that now, I have the answer to all our problems: www.letrickeyplay.com

Posted by: CE | January 8, 2008 9:20 PM | Report abuse

Here's my take on how to spend the Lerner's moeny: 1) Farm System, 2) Current Players, 3) Marketing. As a return on investment I expect more money than I put in within 10 years and the thrill of winning.

Here's how I would invest in the farm system: 1) scouting, 2) instruction, 3) physical training, and 4) payroll.

Here's How I would invest in Current Players: 1) 60% young players (under 30) with potential, 2) 30% stable and productive veterans, 3) 10% rookies and filler.

Here's how I would invest in marketing: professional advertising (print, radio, and TV), offseason events, and in season promotions.

Of course if I had the Lerner's money I would not be sitting here in my basement hacking.

Posted by: NatBisquit | January 8, 2008 10:14 PM | Report abuse

Some recent Nationals expenditures:

The Nats have gone from having zero international presence under the Expos (during MLB ownership) to now having a Dominican Academy since 2006 and a DSL (Dom. Summer League) team in 2007.

For those wanting Nationals international coverage, links are listed below, including one by Barry.

Baseball America also shows the Nats had the second highest 2007 draft bonus/signing payout (behind the stupid O's - only because of Wieters $6 mil contract) at $7,619,300.

Also, the Lerners personally added $40 mil this year for stadium improvements on top of the $611 city stadium (Those Jefferson Suite flat screens better be BluRay compatible or those "Cheap Bastards" will be pissed).

Meanwhile, Drayton McLane shows an Astros team commitment by shelling out $536K for 2007 draft picks, not signing a player before the 5th round in the 07 draft, practically abandoning the Astros stranglehold on the South American free agent market and unloading his already marginal farm system for Tejada & Valverde.

Or take a peek at Loria who unloads Cabrera and Willis (two productive and popular arbitration eligible players, mind you) for prospects and pockets the $30 mil+ from revenue sharing. Marlins payroll for 2008 stands at maybe $15 mil.

As of now, which teams in the NL have picked up huge, long term free agent contracts? Dodgers..check, Giants...check, Cubs...check, Reds...check. Thats only 4 of 16 National League teams making commitments. Personally, in 4 years, I'd rather have Milledge in CF than Rowand or Andruw Jones and someone other than Frankie Cordero as my closer.

Not sure about you, but I'd also rather have a future of Burgess, Smoker, Detwiler, McGeary, Zimmerman, Souza, Norris, Alaniz & Meyers than 200 innings in 2008 and a 5+/- ERA, $8 mil.+/yr of Jennings or Livo or Benson and the like as well.

I guess my point is there are many ways of interpreting commitment. Personally, I've had about 1.3 sips of the Nats punch. I'm still hesitant to drink the rest, especially with Bowden trying to implement the 1990's Braves system of winning.

Maybe someday soon I'll chug the rest of my dixie cup.

A couple links on the Nats Dominican progress:

http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2007/01/18/AR2007011802089.html

http://fredericksburg.com/News/FLS/2006/122006/12182006/244676/index_html?page=1

Posted by: Los Doce Ocho | January 9, 2008 12:45 AM | Report abuse

The Nats had two DSL teams, actually, one of which won the championship.

I look forward to finding out how many of the Dominican kids are brought to the US this year. Even more, I am excited to finding out how many of the successful Vermont Lake Monsters move to the Potomac Nationals, making them easily enjoyed right here in our area. Look to the Nationals Farm Authority website for that conversation to begin soon.

Kevin

Posted by: Five more weeks | January 9, 2008 5:02 AM | Report abuse

I'm all for spending money on scouting and player development, but aren't most of the associated costs fixed? Ten years from now they will still need to pay scouts and draft bonuses. So I'm not buying into the either/or arguement that the team is putting more resources into the minor leagues than the major leagues. In order to shed the label of being cheap, the Lerners need to commit themselves to winning at all levels.

Posted by: PowerBoater69 | January 9, 2008 7:51 AM | Report abuse

And look how well it worked out for the Cubs last year.

---

As of now, which teams in the NL have picked up huge, long term free agent contracts? Dodgers..check, Giants...check, Cubs...check, Reds...check.

Posted by: Alfonso | January 9, 2008 8:40 AM | Report abuse

Ah going home early, it is fantastic. Unfortunately, looks like a missed a bunch of good back and forth, but after reading everything, I have nothing to add, other than appreciatively acknowledging the tribute from Coverage regarding the Post.

Posted by: Section 506 (Before moving) | January 9, 2008 9:02 AM | Report abuse

PB69, your hunger to win now is lauded. But that isn't the top priority of this franchise. Not to say that winning is not important, it is. But to build for long term winning is more important. As stated by Los Doce Ocho, mlb depleted the farm system when contraction was in the loop. It has and will take time to rebuild all that, and that is the focus of the FO right now. The seeds of youth will bloom and all will see the team blossom in time. Patience people, patience, it will happen, and happen the right way.

Posted by: SC Nats Fan | January 9, 2008 9:27 AM | Report abuse

There will ALWAYS be a figurative connection between payroll and expectations; I don't think that will ever change (Sorry Stan).
That being said, I don't understand why people get so upset about low spending to build with young players. There are so many examples, in both baseball and other sports, that illustrate how much more succesful a team is that grows up together vice throwing a bunch of proven, expensive pieces together. I'm ok with a $50m payroll right now. I think that in two years they should be settling in around the $70m mark, and if they aren't near that number yet I may have some more questions. But for now, isn't it nice being the opposite of what most of us hate about baseball: The Yankees? I like underspending and outplaying the opponents, not the other way around.

Posted by: AJ | January 9, 2008 10:27 AM | Report abuse

"Signing Vet Pitcher for 10 Million (Livo) for one year is a good example. How does that hurt the team?"

JB, it hurts the team by A) not using that roster spot on a kid with potential to be in the rotation for the next six years, and B) wasting $6m or $7m per year on a pitcher that you KNOW will not be on the team when the rest of the up-and-coming players are ready to REALLY compete (most people believe another year or two). That money can be better spent one or two seasons later on that one free agent gem who can send the team over the top.

Posted by: AJ | January 9, 2008 10:39 AM | Report abuse

AJ, what up-and-coming players do you believe are going to be ready to REALLY compete in a year or two that will help take the Nats over the top?

Posted by: Coverage is lacking | January 9, 2008 10:54 AM | Report abuse

"what up-and-coming players do you believe are going to be ready to REALLY compete in a year or two that will help take the Nats over the top?"

Coverage, I think that's the point. AJ wants to find out who they are.

In my opinion, I wouldn't mind having one spot on the rotation next year for someone that's a gamble. But that means we need a lock for the other 4.

Posted by: Section 506 (Before moving) | January 9, 2008 11:08 AM | Report abuse

I understand 506, but here is what I am getting at. Every team in baseball is trying to build from within. Even the Yankees (Chamberlain, Hughes, Kennedy) and the Red Sox (Buckholtz, Lester). It is extremely difficult to do it successfully. And it takes TIME.

So, while I am all for the Plan, I think it is important that we all be realistic about (a) how long it will reasonably take if it does succeed, and (b) the fact that it might not succeed. I don't think we should be talking about "a year or two" unless we can really back that up with specifics. And even the most highly-touted prospects often flame out--just ask Clint Hurdle or Gregg Jeffries about that, to name just a couple. As a result of all this, as I have said before, I don't think that the Nats should be (or need to be) sacrificing the goal of at least being competitive now for the goal of fielding a potential champion, in, say, 5 years from now (to give a more realistic estimate in my opinion than a "year or two").

Posted by: Coverage is lacking | January 9, 2008 11:27 AM | Report abuse

as far as 09/10, there are at least a handful of potential callups.

i think there is hope that detwiler will be ready by 09 or even a late season callup this year.

additionally, maxwell, marrero, balester... there are a number of other players who could be up by 09/10.

on a side note, here's what baseball america says the projected 2011 lineup for the nats looks like:

PROJECTED 2011 LINEUP
Catcher Jesus Flores
First Base Chris Marrero
Second Base Stephen King
Third Base Ryan Zimmerman
Shortstop Ian Desmond
Left Field Wily Mo Pena
Center Field Justin Maxwell
Right Field Michael Burgess
No. 1 Starter Ross Detwiler
No. 2 Starter Collin Balester
No. 3 Starter Jack McGeary
No. 4 Starter Josh Smoker
No. 5 Starter Jordan Zimmerman
Closer Chad Cordero

not sure i believe a lot of that, but it gives you an idea of who should be up in the majors in 3 years (if, of course, they develop as planned).

Posted by: 231 (other 506) | January 9, 2008 11:33 AM | Report abuse

PROJECTED 2011 LINEUP
Catcher Jesus Flores
First Base Chris Marrero
Second Base Stephen King
Third Base Ryan Zimmerman
Shortstop Ian Desmond
Left Field Wily Mo Pena
Center Field Justin Maxwell
Right Field Michael Burgess
No. 1 Starter Ross Detwiler
No. 2 Starter Collin Balester
No. 3 Starter Jack McGeary
No. 4 Starter Josh Smoker
No. 5 Starter Jordan Zimmerman
Closer Chad Cordero

This illustrates my point quite well. It's a given that at least a couple of these guys will never make it to this level or will flame out quickly after getting their shot. But you take three solid 30-year-old free agents and put them somewhere in that mix and THAT'S the team we should all be looking forward to. And it would still be one with a payroll under $80m and most likely competing for pennants by that time. Why bring in a guy for one or two years who will help us win six or eight more games this year (when it might mean the difference between 70 and 77 wins) but who will be making $10m a year, when instead you could have a couple of guys making $12m a year, helping us win maybe 10 more games, when that difference translates to maybe 90 or 95 wins?

Posted by: AJ | January 9, 2008 12:09 PM | Report abuse

I think AJ has it right. Our model should be the D-Backs, the Rockies, the Indians, not the Yanks, the Cubs, the Os.

Posted by: Bob L. Head | January 9, 2008 12:34 PM | Report abuse

They finished in first place. Can't be that bad.
Got smoked by a better, younger, looser team in the playoffs, won "only" 85 games, but still.

*********
And look how well it worked out for the Cubs last year.
---
As of now, which teams in the NL have picked up huge, long term free agent contracts? Dodgers..check, Giants...check, Cubs...check, Reds...check.
Posted by: Alfonso | January 9, 2008 08:40 AM

Posted by: CE | January 9, 2008 1:45 PM | Report abuse

Unless (on second reading) your point was really "look how well that worked out for the Dodgers, Giants, and Reds" -- in which case, nevermind.

++++++++++++++++
They finished in first place. Can't be that bad.
Got smoked by a better, younger, looser team in the playoffs, won "only" 85 games, but still.
*********
And look how well it worked out for the Cubs last year.
---
As of now, which teams in the NL have picked up huge, long term free agent contracts? Dodgers..check, Giants...check, Cubs...check, Reds...check.
Posted by: Alfonso | January 9, 2008 08:40 AM
Posted by: CE | January 9, 2008 01:45 PM

Posted by: CE | January 9, 2008 1:55 PM | Report abuse

Mariners sign a multi-position, middle infielder to challenge Jose Lopez. Rangers about to sign Eddie Guardado to bolster bullpen. Too bad the Nats don't have some excess at MI and bullpen because otherwise they might have wanted to swing a deal for say, Jeff Clement or Gerald Laird. But we have Lo Duca for a year.

Posted by: jon | January 9, 2008 2:00 PM | Report abuse

Fair enough, but it might be noted, that only gets them back to even with everybody else.
***********
MLB depleted the farm system when contraction was in the loop. It will take time to rebuild all that, and that is the focus of the FO right now.
Posted by: SC Nats Fan | January 9, 2008 09:27 AM

Posted by: CE | January 9, 2008 2:02 PM | Report abuse

"They finished in first place. Can't be that bad.
Got smoked by a better, younger, looser team in the playoffs, won "only" 85 games, but still."


Yeah, they beat the Brewers, the Cardinals, the Pirates, and the Astros. And they barely beat the Brewers, who... get ready for it... had a bunch of young guys that were raised from within.

Posted by: Section 506 (Before moving) | January 9, 2008 2:06 PM | Report abuse

I'm not sure why they'd want Laird over Lo Duca, unless he's cheaper, and I haven't heard that Clement was available, unless maybe they give Seattle Flores + Rausch + another prospect, which I wouldn't do. You might rather have Clement than Flores, but so would Seattle.

********
Too bad the Nats don't have some excess at MI and bullpen because otherwise they might have wanted to swing a deal for say, Jeff Clement or Gerald Laird. But we have Lo Duca for a year.
Posted by: jon | January 9, 2008 02:00 PM

Posted by: CE | January 9, 2008 2:11 PM | Report abuse

True, but they DID beat them, and they didn't pick the division lineup, they just play there. Will they do it again this year? Nobody knows. They still have 162 games left.

But they did get SO smoked by the Dbax, didn't they?

********
Yeah, they beat the Brewers, the Cardinals, the Pirates, and the Astros. And they barely beat the Brewers, who... get ready for it... had a bunch of young guys that were raised from within.
Posted by: Section 506 (Before moving) | January 9, 2008 02:06 PM

Posted by: CE | January 9, 2008 2:15 PM | Report abuse

"But they did get SO smoked by the Dbax, didn't they?"

Yeah, SO smoked! My Cubs-fan Girlfriend's Cubs-fan Family hasn't yet heard the end of my cackling.

My point isn't that it's not a way to win, just that it's an awfully more unnecessarily expensive way to win.

I feel the D-backs and the Rockies owe more to momentum than to their young players. Their wins were an awful lot of good scouting and luck (see, Florida Marlins). I look to more of a Cleveland/Detroit model as the ideal: good scouting and shrewd FA investment - and luck.

Posted by: Section 506 (Before moving) | January 9, 2008 2:35 PM | Report abuse

CE - Clement is available in the right deal, as is Morrow and Jones. Granted, I've seen them as available for Bedard as a group ;-) But, more seriously, as recently as last Sunday, I read (and posted a link) to Nick Cafardo's piece discussing how the M's are stretching our Morrow in Venezuela and how they still are looking at Clement as a prime trade piece. This was buried in his Dmitri Young article.

With Johjima and Burke on the major league roster, the M's have their starter and backup so they could move Clement for a major piece. Now we've talked about Chad before, and in a large ballpark, he has been very effective. Chad could replace Morrow as Putz's set up, Morrow could go to the rotation, and for $6 million, you have a much stronger staff with upside that's a lot cheaper than the dreck that is available as FAs. Now if I'm Seattle, I might not move one of the 2 or 3 best catching prospects for a guy I plan on using as a set up guy and backup closer ordinarily, but I'd have to think about it due to the quality of the guy I'm getting and the chance to get better use out of Morrow. The Nats would not have to move Flores due to Johjima., and, given the catching shortage at a few of the top contenders, I might even flip one or the other for something useful (Lowrie plus) from the loser in the Santana war.

As for Laird, I thought he might have been a better target than Lo Duca due to age and defense. I also think he will hit due to his minor league record, but recognize last year does not show that. With Lo Duca, Laird's moot.

Posted by: jon | January 9, 2008 3:58 PM | Report abuse

Hey gang, the Spring Training schedule has been posted to the Nats site. Yay!

Posted by: natsfan1a | January 9, 2008 4:53 PM | Report abuse

The spring training invitees have been posted at nationals Farm Authority:

http://farmauthority.dcsportsnet.com/2008/01/09/spring-training-invites/

Posted by: Five more weeks | January 9, 2008 5:43 PM | Report abuse

Michael Hinckley! I don't want to love him, but I can't help it. It's just that he's so handsome. If only he were better at, you know, his job.

Posted by: Atlanta | January 9, 2008 5:44 PM | Report abuse

hehe... remember in early 2005 when hinckley was considered one of the better prospects in the system?

Posted by: 231 (other 506) | January 9, 2008 5:51 PM | Report abuse

189 posts, 50 hours later.....No Barry, No reporting, No Opinions, No Notebooks ......Nothing.....No wonder they are going out of business.

Posted by: Post Really is Lacking | January 9, 2008 5:53 PM | Report abuse

Time will tell. I agree the Rockies just got insanely hot at the last possible moment, but I think Arizona really is that good. So's Cleveland. I have liked how Detroit went about it since they signed Rodriguez, but I have a feeling about them now, not sure why, but something is telling me they aren't going to make it.
*******
I feel the D-backs and the Rockies owe more to momentum than to their young players. Their wins were an awful lot of good scouting and luck (see, Florida Marlins). I look to more of a Cleveland/Detroit model as the ideal: good scouting and shrewd FA investment - and luck.
Posted by: Section 506 (Before moving) | January 9, 2008 02:35 PM

Posted by: ya gotta have luck | January 9, 2008 8:11 PM | Report abuse

Leave Barry alone. Oh my God, no posts in two days?!?! As per the Goffmeister, beat reporters aren't paid extra for blogging, so he's basically doing this out of the goodness of his heart. And for all the work he does during the season, he deserves to be able to take it eas(ier) in the off-season.

Posted by: Anonymous | January 9, 2008 8:35 PM | Report abuse

Petulant expression of self-entitlement, however, is never lacking.

Posted by: joebleux | January 9, 2008 10:02 PM | Report abuse

What they said...

---

Leave Barry alone. Oh my God, no posts in two days?!?! As per the Goffmeister, beat reporters aren't paid extra for blogging, so he's basically doing this out of the goodness of his heart. And for all the work he does during the season, he deserves to be able to take it eas(ier) in the off-season.

Posted by: | January 9, 2008 08:35 PM

Posted by: Barry's mom | January 9, 2008 10:05 PM | Report abuse

I had missed the nes that Alex Escobar must have accepted a minor league assignment. I see that he is invited to camp, He's one of those guys who could have been rich if he could have stayed healthy - a talented player who simply cannot stay on the field. We probably won't need a RH hitting backup outfielder as much this year (4 RH ahead of him), but it would be a great story if Escobar ever got to deliver a whole year in the majors as a starter. If healthy he provides some nice depth in case someone else gets injurred or slumps.

Posted by: NatBisquit | January 10, 2008 7:56 AM | Report abuse

New post up.

Posted by: natsfan1a | January 10, 2008 8:52 AM | Report abuse

The comments to this entry are closed.

 
 
RSS Feed
Subscribe to The Post

© 2010 The Washington Post Company