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Waiting On Odalis

As we wrote in this morning's Nationals notebook (sorry, but I haven't figured out how to link to it), the Nationals are waiting to hear whether their offer to free agent pitcher Odalis Perez is accepted. I am told it is down to the Nationals and the Boston Red Sox, and a decision could come down today.

Let's be honest here: This would not be a huge deal for the Nationals. It doesn't mean Perez would make their rotation. It just means that, if a Matt Chico or a John Lannan falters this spring, they have a veteran guy with a decent track record to take his place. Perez had a 5.57 ERA in the AL last year, which translates to around 4.75 in the NL. This is about depth, nothing more.

Other news? Well, Elijah Dukes is NOT expected to report today, and there are rumblings that he may not report tomorrow either, even though it is the official reporting day for position players. Apparently, the Nationals may allow him to show up on Thursday, at which point there will be a news conference. The Nationals, obviously, are treating Dukes very carefully, given his extensive history of off-field issues.

Right now, Dukes is viewed as the team's fourth outfielder -- with your starters being Pena, Milledge and Kearns. Here is Manny Acta on Dukes's chances of cracking the starting lineup: "Before we start talking about a starting job, he has to come in and show all that ability."

I'm going to go watch the workout, and will check back in a little later.

Weather: 63 degrees and fair, with a forecasted high of 71.

Soundtrack: "Theme Time Radio Hour" with Bob Dylan, XM Radio, Episode 4: "Baseball." Priceless, if for no other reason than to hear Dylan sing an a capella version of "Take Me Out to the Ballgame."

UPDATE/CLARIFICATION: I touched on this in the comments section, but here is what I'm told is going to happen with Elijah Dukes. He will "report" tomorrow, but probably not show up at the stadium -- at least not where the media can get to him. (And remember that most teams don't require a player to show up in the clubhouse to report. It can be done with a phone call.) He will have a news conference on Thursday. And the key thing to remember here is that the whole process is being scripted by the team, which is going to great lengths to ease his arrival into this new environment. I was actually told that Dukes made it known he wanted to show up early -- he was already in Orlando, working out and doing most of the same things he would have been doing in Viera -- but the team wanted him to wait.

And still no word on Odalis Perez, for those of you waiting breathlessly for the big news.

By Dave Sheinin  |  February 19, 2008; 9:14 AM ET
 
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Next: Odalis Perez Chooses the Nats

Comments

You haven't lived until you've heard Bill Buckner sing it, as I once did on a trip to Wrigley. Talk about pitchy...wow!

---

"Priceless, if for no other reason than to hear Dylan sing an a capella version of "Take Me Out to the Ballgame."

Posted by: natsfan1a | February 19, 2008 9:43 AM | Report abuse

Sorry if this question is repetitive, but I need to ask: why is Elijah Dukes showing up one day after official reporting day?

Posted by: joemktg | February 19, 2008 9:48 AM | Report abuse

Seems like Dukes needed to show up last week, not a day late, to show his eagerness and enthusiasm.

Posted by: NatsNut | February 19, 2008 9:52 AM | Report abuse

Also confused re: Dukes. I thought they had a zero tolerance policy with this guy. Now he shows up late and that's OK?

I mean if his mom is on her deathbed or something, OK, but otherwise, where the heck is he? All the established players are there but a guy who is trying to win a roster spot AND has a history of pretty serious problems doesn't show up?

I don't want to get too excited but I really have a problem with this.

Posted by: Avar | February 19, 2008 10:05 AM | Report abuse

"Seems like Dukes needed to show up last week, not a day late, to show his eagerness and enthusiasm."

The team can spin this which ever way they want to over the next couple of days, but it is what it is....a bad sign & a bad start.

Posted by: Bazz | February 19, 2008 10:18 AM | Report abuse

... on the whole, I like the direction the team seems to have taken in preparation of this year's ST. Sticking to The Plan, pitching is still key, and with Johnnie P and Shawn H. looking 'better', with Odalis Perez on the horizon, with the best bullpen in MLB still pretty much intact, the mound is in good shape. The fights at middle infield, and 1B can only mean we end up with the best of the bunch currently working to win the top spots. Ryan Zimmerman is and will be the 3B of this team for years to come. Much water will have run under a river of bridges before we get to the point of talking about a struggle to win that position. Behind the plate, we are set up well indeed. Three capable and bigs-experienced catchers are a welcome sight in any ST.

... but the outfield - that's where I have discomfort. If Austin has a bad year; if Lastings isn't ready yet; if WiMo shows it was all an illusion; if the Dukester reverts to his old ways of dealing with stress - who is our steady guy or guys? Is Justin or Marrero ready for prime-time? Is Langerhans better on the bench? Is Mackowiac an everyday asset? I don't know about you but it sure seems to me the OF is the weak link here.

"In forty days, in forty days, I'd like to see you in Nationals Park in forty days" - apologies to Cliff Richard

Go Nats!!

Posted by: natscan reduxit | February 19, 2008 10:18 AM | Report abuse

Agreed that if he showed up early that would be a great start, but I expect the press conference to be really positive. It will probably offer details we've been asking about involving his relationships with Young and Larkin. It might even offer a good reason for his being late, at the same time.

Definitely intriguing. Doesn't Dukes live in Florida?

Posted by: nattaboy | February 19, 2008 10:22 AM | Report abuse

Perez: I'm surprised the Nats aren't looking at Byung-Hyun Kim -- he's two years younger than Perez, probably cheaper. In James and ZIP they both average to a 4.80 projection.

Something completely different but involving Dukes--the Matt Whitney thread: assume that the Nats carry 13 position players, and that LoDuca,Estrada,Johnson -or- Young, Belliard, Logan, C.Guzaman, Zimm, Kearns, Pena and Milledge are locks.

That leaves 3 spots for: Mackoviak, Harris, Dukes, with Whitney, GGuzman and Orr on the outside. Given that Bowden has described his situation as analogous to Flores, and BA has him as our #21 prospect, does Whitney have a prayer at making the 25, or staying there?

Posted by: NatsInNC | February 19, 2008 10:27 AM | Report abuse

i see a lot more question marks in the MI than i do in the OF. mostly because there's actually more potential in the OF and because 2 of the 3 MIs have played below expectations for most of their time in DC. but both MI and OF are all players with something to prove. kearns is probably the most established of all of them, and he's never lived up to his offensive potential.

Posted by: 231 | February 19, 2008 10:28 AM | Report abuse

"i see a lot more question marks in the MI than i do in the OF."

... otoh, I like the results of an IF where there is a struggle for positions more than I do for an OF which is pretty much established and where no one has to do much to prove himself."

"kearns is probably the most established of all of them, and he's never lived up to his offensive potential."

... and the fact he is both - most established, yet still unachieved, adds to my premise, I believe.

Posted by: natscan reduxit | February 19, 2008 10:35 AM | Report abuse

Natsin NC,
You forgot Aaron Boone, who w/ a $1m contract is pretty solid for a 25 man spot. So that only leaves 2 spots for Mackowiak, Harris, Dukes. Bet on Mackowiak and Dukes based on contract size and upside potential respectively.

I agree Whitney and G. Guzman will be out barring significant injury to someone.

Also, think it's interesting you said Young OR Johnson. I think there is a real good chance they both are on the team opening day.

Posted by: Avar | February 19, 2008 10:40 AM | Report abuse

About Dukes coming late: I dunno, it's a stretch, but I guess it's possible the team TOLD him to come a day later.

Maybe to get the team all together first, plan a warm welcome, plan for all the media stuff surrounding him, etc.??

Posted by: NatsNut | February 19, 2008 10:48 AM | Report abuse

Dukes and Larkin live in Florida. This late arrival has to be a team idea. I dont blame Dukes.

Posted by: Andrew Stebbins | February 19, 2008 10:52 AM | Report abuse

So, they want this "stuckfick" with an "extensive history of off field issues" as the 4th outfielder when they have Justin Maxwell who I think would do very well. I saw Maxwell interviewed last night on NBC4 and he is just so upbeat and positive and IN CAMP EARLY to work with the team. Hmmm. Shame on Mr. Dukes.

Posted by: 6th and D | February 19, 2008 10:55 AM | Report abuse

only problem, natscan, is the only established guy in the OF is kearns. granted, there's not the same kind of competition for position as there is in the MI, but all three of the other OFs have plenty to prove (and WMP and milledge may have chips on their shoulders about it), so it's not like any of them should be coming in complacent.

as far as kearns, he has something to prove offensively, but he was still a better player offensively and defensively last year than anyone in our MI. by a long way.

Posted by: 231 | February 19, 2008 10:57 AM | Report abuse

As someone who grew up a royals fan in the dc area, let me just say that the thought of odalis perez in a nats uniform makes me throw up a little in my mouth. I can't believe we might end up with him instead of livo.

Also, he's trying to pick between the sox and nats? Ummm, ok. I bet he wants to get back to the NL b.c he wouldn't last 10 starts in beantown.

Posted by: .390 | February 19, 2008 11:04 AM | Report abuse

Trying this on Blackberry so not sure how well it will work. But to clarify, even though the Dukes press conference will be Thursday, Dukes is expected to "report" on time tomorrow, even if he never shows his face in the clubhouse. Remember a player doesn't have to show up at the stadium to report. And those of you who guessed the team is orchestrating his arrival are correct.

Posted by: Dave Sheinin | February 19, 2008 11:18 AM | Report abuse

"assume that the Nats carry 13 position players, and that LoDuca,Estrada,Johnson -or- Young, Belliard, Logan, C.Guzaman, Zimm, Kearns, Pena and Milledge are locks."

Logan is not on the team anymore. With nine locks and assuming 13 position players that leaves four spots for (1) Young/Johnson; (2) Boone; (3) Dukes; (4) Harris; (5) Mackowiak; (6) Rule 5 Guys.

I got N. Johnson traded to the Yankees and a Rule 5 making the team over mackowiak or Harris only if they have a hot spring.

Posted by: Roster | February 19, 2008 11:19 AM | Report abuse

Natscan - while I agree that Austin maybe hasn't lived up to his full potential, he's a very, very underrated player as it is. He's far and away the second-best player on the team (counting a healthy NJ), and I think he's probably the guy most likely to be helped by moving out of RFK - his OPS was 130 points better on the road than at home last year. He does everything (including defensively) above-average. Chris at CP had a really good post awhile back pulling together alot of the things that he does better than most and came away with the conclusion that he's maybe in the top-3 or top-5 RF's in the league. He strikes me as the kind of guy who, either due to personality or style never really gets fully appreciated because he's so unassuming about what he does. Truth of the matter is that he had a down year last year and still had the second-best OBP on the team. Anyway, I only think he's a "question mark" if you think Zimm's a question mark in the sense that he might not improve on last year.

To me, more generally, the OF is why I'm excited about this years team. Milledge's numbers last year were about roughly equal to Church, so even if he's not showing any improvement, he's not much worse than Church. WMP's production was excellent in his limited time, but not that far out of line with his career numbers. If he can sustain that, he's a plus, and even if he falls back to his career numbers, he's not worse than what we were running out there on a regular basis last year (the three-headed Casto/Restovich/Snelling monster had about as many ABs in LF as WMP did).

So, I guess, to take a long post and shorten it, the downside risk in the OF seems pretty small to me, and the upside potential is pretty significant. Worst case, I think it's no worse than last year. Best case, there are some real hitters there.

By the way, I really liked the "Spanish Gloves of Spanish Leather" back a few posts ago - I was saving that one for the inevitable Lopez-Guzman DP combo, so expect to see that recycled.

As for Dukes, he's a risk - but let's not pounce on a guy for not showing up early. It would be nice if he did, but it seems to me jumping on him about that is like criticizing him for not wearing enough "pieces of flair." I don't like the guy, nor especially the decisions he's made in his life, but I'm willing to hear him out.

Posted by: Ryan Dylan (in defense of Absolutely Sweet Austin) | February 19, 2008 11:19 AM | Report abuse

I think Sheinin already gave us the answer on why is Dukes coming in late - the team wants him to. Perhaps they feel they can better control interaction with media if they are not processing 40 other players on reporting day. Remember, the key word in the phrase 'second chance' is 'chance'.

Posted by: NatBisquit | February 19, 2008 11:23 AM | Report abuse

"Logan is not on the team anymore."

No, he's not. But Lopez is, and he wasn't on that list that contained Logan. So you probably need to re-do your roster math there.

Posted by: Section 419+1 | February 19, 2008 11:25 AM | Report abuse

But is it soft Corinthian leather?

---

By the way, I really liked the "Spanish Gloves of Spanish Leather" back a few posts ago - I was saving that one for the inevitable Lopez-Guzman DP combo, so expect to see that recycled.

Posted by: Ricardo | February 19, 2008 11:29 AM | Report abuse

that's *rich* corintian leather, ricky riccardo! ;)

Posted by: 231 | February 19, 2008 11:39 AM | Report abuse

On the 25-man: Thanks, Avar -- I'd forgotten ABoone (I can only store one Boone at a time). And "Logan" should be "Lopez;" at some sorry point in time last year I started storing Felipe and Nook in the same neuron.....

Posted by: NatsInNC | February 19, 2008 11:44 AM | Report abuse

Weighing in, after a weekend away:

1. Kudos to Sheinin for all of the reporting/posting here. Love the "soundtrack" addition. It's been said that this is a literate blog, perhaps it will now take on another art form as well!

2. I think Bret Boone is a "do me a favor" signing, a decision that was made without an eye on the current roster. My guess is that even if he does well, he'll still be cut and that the primary purpose here is to give him a chance to show other teams what he can do.

3. Dukes being late -- Dave has clarified that he's not late; the team is scripting his arrival. My guess is that the reasons are twofold: One is training for Dukes ("here's how to go about the offseason; here's how to go about arriving for Spring Training") and two is public relations, making sure he says and does the right things off the bat (so to speak) so as to ease his transition to the Nationals (and away from his troubled past).

4. Perez -- "cheap and available" MLB average-type lefty = insurance if Chico and/or Lannan need more seasoning. Let's hope they don't.

5. Meat/NJ -- keep 'em both until the trade deadline.

Posted by: Bob L. Head | February 19, 2008 11:44 AM | Report abuse

Ryan Dylan: FINALLY, someone who shares my sentiments. I agree Kearns is under-recognized. Shoot, *EYE* under-recognized him until the second half last year. But the more I looked at him the more I liked and respected the guy (his music taste aside). Now I'm all Kearnsy all the time.

NatsNut

Posted by: Kearns's Mom | February 19, 2008 11:47 AM | Report abuse

Thanks to Sheinen for the Dukes clarification. If the team arranged it, no problem.

Agree on the Kearns thread, definitely one of the best defensive right-fielders in the game and very solid offensively. I think he'll do better this year at the plate w/ the new park.

This reminds me, for some reason, that while I won't "predict" it, I think that if the starters we have slated have career average years, or slightly above for the younger guys, this team could be the DBacks of '08 and get the wild card in the NL.

There, I said it. Actually, I think a couple of us have said it before. I reserve the right to gloat if we pull it off.

Posted by: Avar | February 19, 2008 12:12 PM | Report abuse

Murray Chass has a very interesting piece in today's NY Times about the retirement of Jeremy Brown and assessing the A's 2002 "Moneyball" draft 6 years later. The A's had 7 picks out of the first 39 in that year's draft; 4 of the picks have seen the big leagues to date (including Brown who played in 5 games before his retirement). Here is the link to the article: http://tiny.cc/gsgsL

Some could say that the A's "Moneyball" experiment is an extreme and that not much can be extrapolated from it. For the other 32 picks out of the first 39, Chass reports that 20 have played in the majors (62.5%). In any case, as the Nats proceed with the "Plan," this is a good reminder that not all the Marreros, Burgesses, and Smokers (much less the Maxwells) even get a cup of coffee, much less become established starters. Though we can always hope that the Nats' recent drafts are exceptions to the rule...

Posted by: Coverage is lacking | February 19, 2008 12:15 PM | Report abuse

I can vouch for NatsNut jumping on the Kearns train. I believe I was involved in a long back and forth on the subject at just about a similar time. I know I wasn't the person who persuaded her he was good (I think it was Barry, when he reported Kearns' goldish glove), but I recall it.

Posted by: Section 506 (Before moving) | February 19, 2008 12:32 PM | Report abuse

Bowden says, "Before we start talking about a starting job, he has to come in and show all that ability."

I say, "Before we start talking about a starting job, he has to come in."

Posted by: John in Mpls | February 19, 2008 12:32 PM | Report abuse

Also, message from my Cubs Fan Girlfriend: "Lopez better do well this year, so we can have him around to look out for awhile."

Posted by: Section 506 (Before moving) | February 19, 2008 12:41 PM | Report abuse

506: I didn't remember the thread, but it must have been you who made me look twice. Thanks!

Posted by: NatsNut | February 19, 2008 12:43 PM | Report abuse

While I am the go to guy for attribution, I remember the thread because I got excited when I saw your post and gushed about how finally somebody else liked Kearns.

Posted by: Section 506 (Before moving) | February 19, 2008 12:48 PM | Report abuse

I believe that I may have suggested a joint custody agreement at some point? :)

---

While I am the go to guy for attribution, I remember the thread because I got excited when I saw your post and gushed about how finally somebody else liked Kearns.

Posted by: natsfan1a (AKA Austin's mom) | February 19, 2008 12:51 PM | Report abuse

Let me add myself as a member of the Kearnsey fan club. I nearly had a heart attack when rumors surfaced during the winter GM meetings that he was likely to be dealt.

And 506: Amen to your Cubs-fan-(though we know she's really a Nats fan by now)-GF. Felipe may have errors and attitude, but daymn. And the brooding attitude sort of adds to his non-baseball appeal to my gender, IMHO. :)

Posted by: JennX | February 19, 2008 1:02 PM | Report abuse

Er... Just realized, 506, that you said "look OUT" not "AT." Now I'm not sure what your GF meant by that!

Posted by: JennX | February 19, 2008 1:04 PM | Report abuse

I hate it when people confuse me with that other guy.

Posted by: Ricardo Montalban | February 19, 2008 1:05 PM | Report abuse

Why would the team script Dukes showing up late? I don't doubt it, it just seems silly. If the kid wanted to show up early, why on earth wouldn't the club let him?

Posted by: Anonymous | February 19, 2008 1:16 PM | Report abuse

It appears they are currently showing a movie on the screen at park. check out clark's camera. I can't figure out what movie though.

Posted by: irishnat | February 19, 2008 1:17 PM | Report abuse

My comment meant I am a lazy proof-reader. I meant "at", Jenn, your female instincts were correct.

Also, how come my brooding just makes me less appealing? I mean, besides not having the body of a professional athlete?

Posted by: Section 506 (Before moving) | February 19, 2008 1:19 PM | Report abuse

==
I hate it when people confuse me with that other guy.

Posted by: Ricardo Montalban | February 19, 2008 01:05 PM
==

don't worry, i didn't confuse lucy's wife with the commercial spokesman for chrysler at all. i presumed that ricardo montalban would know the difference between "rich" corinthian leather and "soft" corinthian leather, so it must have been ricky ricardo that posted.

then again, you are 87, so maybe it was just a senior moment... ;)

Posted by: 231 | February 19, 2008 1:23 PM | Report abuse

Funny, I also read it as "at." :)

My guess would be the tattoos, 506 (though they're not my thing).

---

My comment meant I am a lazy proof-reader. I meant "at", Jenn, your female instincts were correct.

Also, how come my brooding just makes me less appealing? I mean, besides not having the body of a professional athlete?

Posted by: natsfan1a | February 19, 2008 1:34 PM | Report abuse

JennX is right, as is 506's CFG. Seat-mate and I discussed at length last year that Felipe is the best looking on the team.

I dunno, though. Dmitri, Ray, Nick and Chad supposedly dropped a few pounds. Felipe may have some competition this year!

(I wonder if the players read this. If so, buck says they'll give him a hard time about it)

Posted by: NatsNut | February 19, 2008 1:35 PM | Report abuse

Wiki says soft ;)

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Corinthian_leathe

Also, new post.

---

don't worry, i didn't confuse lucy's wife with the commercial spokesman for chrysler at all. i presumed that ricardo montalban would know the difference between "rich" corinthian leather and "soft" corinthian leather, so it must have been ricky ricardo that posted.

Posted by: natsfan1a | February 19, 2008 1:37 PM | Report abuse

I can't believe that I just Googled Corinthian leather... :)

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Corinthian_leather

Posted by: natsfan1a | February 19, 2008 1:38 PM | Report abuse

so... you're saying... it was *my* senior moment? but i hardly have any gray hair!

Posted by: 231 | February 19, 2008 1:46 PM | Report abuse

Nah, just one of those frequently misquoted phrases, it would seem.

Posted by: natsfan1a | February 19, 2008 1:50 PM | Report abuse

For those with XM radio...Sheinin will be on 175 at about 2:45 w/Charley Steiner.

Posted by: SC Nats Fan | February 19, 2008 1:59 PM | Report abuse

lucy's wife?

Posted by: Anonymous | February 19, 2008 2:01 PM | Report abuse

Don't blame Dukes for the "special treatment" and reporting late. He was ready & anxious to report early but "management" decided to have him delay until Thursday. "Management" appears to want to arrange soft landing interviews for him & media. Big Mistake!! This special treatment is only going to bring more negative attention to Dukes and make his Nats appearance uncomfortable for him and his teammates.

Posted by: Vienna | February 19, 2008 2:09 PM | Report abuse

Dave, I'll be heading to Viera on the 28th. In the 35-cent edition, you referred to Bowden or Kasten or someone(can't remember who) on the fourth floor of the headquarters. I was lucky enough to go to Viera the past two years and I can't remember anything at the stadium complex four stories high other than the stadium itself. Is that what you meant? Thanks.

Posted by: Section 109 (old Section 406) | February 19, 2008 2:10 PM | Report abuse

KHAN!!!!!!!! KHAN!!!!!

**************
I hate it when people confuse me with that other guy.
Posted by: Ricardo Montalban | February 19, 2008 01:05 PM

Posted by: William Shatner | February 19, 2008 7:48 PM | Report abuse

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