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Bowden on trade, contract

Here are tonight's lineups. Below, I've posted a quick transcript of much of the conversation with GM Jim Bowden about the busy day. By the way, two key points before we move forward.

* Joel Hanrahan will get the first shot at the closer's role.

* The deal for Guzman is two years, an even $16 million -- eight million per year. No rewards, no incentives.

Washington

Harris - 8
Guzman - 6
Zimmerman - 5
Kearns - 9
Belliard - 3
Flores - 2
Lo Duca - 7
Lopez - 4
Bergmann - 1

San Francisco

Lewis - 7
Velez - 4
Winn - 9
Molina - 2
Rowand - 8
Bowker - 3
Aurilia - 5
Vizquel - 6
Zito - 1

---

BOWDEN

Q: What do you see from Emilio Bonifacio?

Second baseman. Future lead-off guy. Very exciting. He has tremendous range defensively. He's going to make our pitching staff better immediately. Best range of any second baseman we've had since I've been here. Very, very special. When I was starting my career and I came up with the Pirates organization, we had an infielder named Johnny Ray who was top-five in hitting in the league, and we brought in a guy named Jose Lind and between him and Van Slyke and Belliard we fixed up the middle and the club went on to have a nice run of winning. This is the kind of impactful defensive move that changes the complexion of a team. Also, in this day and age, it's very hard to get a leadoff man. There aren't a lot of Ricky Hendersons or Tim Raineses. There aren't a lot of guys who can lead off and steal you 40. He's stolen 40 or more bases each of the last four years. We think this guy is going to be a top-of-the-order leadoff hitter who can steal 40 bags every year and play unbelievable defense with a gun for an arm. ... For us, he's going to be our second-baseman long term. That's what he's going to be. We've optioned him to Columbus; we want him to develop. But he'll be up here at some point by the end of the year and he'll be our second baseman next year.

Q: What are the things he still needs to work on?

At bats. At bats. Also, play one position. The Diamondbacks have moved him around because of having Orlando Hudson at second base. Second base only for us.

Q: You lose Rauch.

Tough to trade a closer. His WHIP is the lowest in baseball; he takes the ball every day. It's hard to trade Jon Rauch. Loved Jon Ruach. Very difficult. You have to trade a reliever when you have the chance to get an everyday position player who's 23 years old. You have to do it. ... Short term, this helps the Diamondbacks with a chance to win the World Series. This is a good trade for them. Long term, it's a good trade for us. It's sticking with our plan. We're not deviating from our plan. Same as the Milledge deal, the Dukes deal, the drafting of Zimmerman and Marrero and Burgess and Hood - the same plan. We're stockpiling young players.

Q: Any sense of who gets the shot to close?

Look, ask Manny Acta that question for this year. For the rest of this year, we'll make it work. That's the manager's call who he decides to put back there.

Q: Mock? What's his role now?

We'll probably put him in the bullpen. His starts have been great; he's had a great July down there. I think his cup of coffee here really helped his confidence, and he's really earned the promotion here. We may try him in the bullpen here and see how that works. We did that with Joel Hanrahan, and I think Joel continues to develop. He's a potential closer for us; he's got the stuff.

Q: To sign Cristian, what does it mean for this organization?

Obviously it was very important, and first of all I want to thank Cristian for working with us and being sensitive to what we went through with his last contract, the four years where he was hurting for the most of it. He gave back to the club by signing a two-year deal and he knows on the free agent market he gets the four years. But he gave back... and I give him a lot of credit. Over the last two years only one other shortstop in all of baseball has a higher batting average, and that's Hanley Ramirez. Right now he leads the NL in hits. He's a switch hitter. Really developed with the bat. His work ethic is amazing. The way he takes batting practice is more professional than anybody on our team. The way he takes infield is more professional than anybody we have on our team. He was our all-star. We wanted to keep him. We looked at all the alternatives out there at shortstop for the next two years, potential free agents, potential trades, and we felt Cristian was the best possibility we had at shortstop for the next two years. ... Middle infield was a big question mark coming in; this year we didn't know what it would look like. Big question marks, with impending free agencies and having holes. And we feel with Zimmerman's range, Bonifacio's range, a healthy Nick Johnson, we have three out of four with plus-plus range.

Q: On a team with so many 23-year-olds, how much of a consideration was it to wrap up one guy who's 30, an older presence?

I think that's a good point. You've got to have a solid guy who plays the game right and wants to play every inning of every game. That's the message that Cristian sends every time he walks out there. He doesn't want to ever come out of the game. No matter what. That's a good message for all of the young kids to know.

Q: Two years, why did that makes sense for the club?

We preferred two. We went through four years of injuries with Cristian. We didn't want to have another contract and all of a sudden we have injuries again. So that was a factor for us. He's still young enough that if we want to sign him again we'll sign him again. He's happy here, and we're happy with him here.
Q: What does it mean to you to make this deal?

... We've been trying to get Emilio for a long time. We tried to make this exact deal a year ago, eight months ago, six months ago, two months ago. They would never give this player up until Sunday. They would never do it. We worked hard to get him, because you go down through all the minor leagues and try to find a second baseman that can lead off and steal 40. The pool is very small.

By Chico Harlan  |  July 22, 2008; 8:50 PM ET
 
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Next: The Story on The Deals

Comments

Extraordinarily rational logic on the two-year deal for Guzman. Really can't fault Bowden for any aspect of the extension - it's below market in years and dollars for a proven performer (when healthy). Any less than two years, and there's obviously no deal. Any more than two years, and that's swallowing too much of the health risk for the team.

Gotta give it up for Guzman to sacrificing some money to stay with this team. He gets extra cheers from me at the next game I attend.

Posted by: faNATic | July 22, 2008 9:01 PM | Report abuse

Long live the plan. Shairon Martis faced 23 Pawtucket batters tonight and struck out 12 in 5 2/3rds.

Posted by: joNAThan | July 22, 2008 9:12 PM | Report abuse

I agree - a 2-year deal for Guzman is the right thing to do. Now, let's get a R.Zimm deal done.

Posted by: BIM | July 22, 2008 9:12 PM | Report abuse

In addition to the Guzman deal (& hopeful R.Zimm deal), let's get two more top-5 draft picks signed!

Posted by: BIM | July 22, 2008 9:20 PM | Report abuse

Glad we have Guzman for another 2 years. Don't think we got enough for Rauch though, Emilio Bonifacio seems like he will be a very good defensive middle infielder, but doesn't seem like he will be a lead off hitter, more like a 6-8 hitter. Never know though

Posted by: ExtremeNats.com | July 22, 2008 9:20 PM | Report abuse

Maybe losing Rausch helps us get closer to the #1 pick. Go Padres, Go Mariners. And Go Nats!

Posted by: joNAThan | July 22, 2008 9:26 PM | Report abuse

Based on latest team performance without my participation on the blog during the game, I'm out. Talk to you later.

Posted by: BIM | July 22, 2008 9:26 PM | Report abuse

Can someone clarify who he's talking about in that last sentence? The question is about Mock, but Jimmy does his Jimmy thing, go off on a completely other subject.
************************************
Q: Mock? What's his role now?

We'll probably put him in the bullpen. His starts have been great; he's had a great July down there. I think his cup of coffee here really helped his confidence, and he's really earned the promotion here. We may try him in the bullpen here and see how that works. We did that with Joel Hanrahan, and I think Joel continues to develop. He's a potential closer for us; he's got the stuff.

Posted by: Anonymous | July 22, 2008 9:29 PM | Report abuse

OK, Chico, the next 10 days are when we hope you are able to do some serious reporting and find out what the Nats are trying to do to deal Felipe. Is it true that they had a deal worked out with the O's but the Nats wouldn't eat enough of Felipe's contract to get the deal done?

Posted by: Coverage is lacking | July 22, 2008 9:31 PM | Report abuse

Two things immediately jumped out at me:

1) "But he'll be up here at some point by the end of the year and he'll be our second baseman next year."

Will Lopez be dealt or will teams want to hold out and bring down his value on the market? It's hard to imagine how it's not the latter.

2) "And we feel with Zimmerman's range, Bonifacio's range, a healthy Nick Johnson, we have three out of four with plus-plus range."

Are we still playing this game? Nick Johnson is never healthy. Friggin love him to death, but he's not a viable starter.

Posted by: Section 506 (Before moving) | July 22, 2008 9:34 PM | Report abuse

So Bonifacio is here primarily for defense and to lead off. Definitely Lopez is out of here after this year and maybe sooner if this trade puts him back into a funk.
I like Bowden's logic for this trade and I like having good defense behind the pitchers. I initially thought that giving up Rauch was too high of a price but now I see it through the lens of the long term plan. I am already looking forward to a healthy, whole lineup for 2009 and of course more Willie Harris for now.

Posted by: Dale | July 22, 2008 9:37 PM | Report abuse

Lopez wont be dealt unless the trading team is willing to take on all of Lopez's remaining contract. If a team would assume the remaining balance, the Nats would accept even an organizational type minor leaguer.

Lopez is a free agent after the season and will not be re-signed unless its to a non-guaranteed deal where he then has to prove his has the ability and attitude to play.

Posted by: Los Doce Ocho | July 22, 2008 9:47 PM | Report abuse

@ Los Doce Ocho

Why wouldn't the nats eat some of lopez's salary? They'll eat it anyway if they don't trade him. Isn't it a smart financial deal to eat some of it? Do we just fire him if we can't trade him?

Posted by: Clueless | July 22, 2008 9:54 PM | Report abuse

LDO, when you refer to "the trading team" in your first sentence, are you referring to the Nats, or to the team that would get Lopez? If the latter, what is your basis to say that? I would hope the Nats would be willing to eat some of the last 2 months if they could get *anything* for Felipe. They aren't getting anything for their money with him on the team.

Posted by: Coverage is lacking | July 22, 2008 9:56 PM | Report abuse

C'mon Nats! make up for the sweep the Giants laid on you at home.

Posted by: leetee1955 | July 22, 2008 10:04 PM | Report abuse

I have no basis at all. Just me rationalizing why Lopez is still on the team given his performance & attitude.
If the team was willing to eat his contract, Lopez would have already been traded or even DFA'd.

But, the Nats already have dead money with Patterson, Mackowiak and maybe Ray King. Plus whatever insurance isnt paying for all the injured players.

At some point, even with a lower tier payroll, there is a benefit to having a healthy and occasionally productive player on your MLB roster in lieu of dead money and a marginal A ball prospect in trade for Lopez. I dont really believe this, but I can see the owners believing this.

Acquiring Bonifacio changes the dynamics a little bit I think, and could expedite Lopez's release to get the kid some playing time/roster spot on the 25 man. But I doubt it.

I also doubt many teams have interest in Lopez even if the Nats paid most or all of his remaining salary (just shy of $2 mil at this point). Look at Durhams trade...SF received two marginal prospects and paid $1.5-2 mil to unload a player of much higher value than Lopez.

Posted by: Los Doce Ocho | July 22, 2008 10:27 PM | Report abuse

LDO

or there may be teams lying inthe weeds hoping the nationals will release flop and he could be acquired without having to send any players to washington.

Posted by: natsscribe | July 22, 2008 10:32 PM | Report abuse

We need to remember Bowden's fetish for former Cincinnati Reds which probably causes him to overvalue Lopez. Lopez was also part of what Bowden also saw as a great deal where he got to pull a fast one on Krivisky. To give up on Lopez or trade him for a bag of balls would be just too much for the man.

Posted by: Count Demoney | July 22, 2008 10:36 PM | Report abuse

aaaaahh. luxuriating in listening to jon miller's call of the game on XM. that man can make you pay attention to a bad team. wish the lerners had sense enough to hire him.

Posted by: natty bumppo | July 22, 2008 10:37 PM | Report abuse

Please Paul play well so you can be traded. Don't the Yankees need him?

Posted by: joNAThan | July 22, 2008 10:40 PM | Report abuse


I do not agree that Durham has much higher value than Lopez. I do agree that Lopez does not have much value.

I don't agree that Lopez can't be traded, but I doubt he will go before the deadline. I think he will get passed through waivers and traded after the deadline for a marginal prospect. The kind of trade that a team fighting to get into the playoffs might make 2 weeks into August when a middle infielder slumps or gets hurt.

They might get a AAAA outfielder or A level pitcher. But those marginal prospects sometimes work out. They are often Rule 5 type players who can't quite cut the current 40 man roster.

I like the Rauch trade. He's been overworked for three plus years. He's been an excellent pitcher and extremely valuable, but a last place team needs a second baseman more than they need a closer. And that will be true next year too. If this new second baseman works out to be a .340 OBP kind of guy then the Nats will be a big winner of this deal.

Posted by: NatBisquit | July 22, 2008 10:47 PM | Report abuse

Are the Yankees in the market for Lo Duca?

According to the NY Times' Tyler Kepner:

The Yankees are also exploring hitters who could become available, including Jason Bay and Xavier Nady of the Pirates. But they are not expecting Colorado to trade outfielder Matt Holliday, and they doubt they can land a catcher to improve on the tandem of José Molina and Chad Moeller.

Posted by: Clueless | July 22, 2008 10:52 PM | Report abuse

I was pretty skeptical until I got to this part: "We tried to make this exact deal a year ago, eight months ago, six months ago, two months ago. They would never give this player up until Sunday. They would never do it."

It's always hard for Joe fan to have perspective on the value of minor league prospects, so it's tough to fathom trading a proven performer like Rauch who plays a critical position. That being said, the likelihood of Rauch being a major contributor when the team is contending for a pennant was not that as high as it might seem.

Posted by: LetTeddyWin.com | July 22, 2008 11:39 PM | Report abuse

Like Teddy says above, none of us know the first thing about Bonifacio. Getting a 2nd baseman who can be a stellar infielder and a leadoff hitter is phenomenal -- what every team wants, unless they've got a centerfielder to do the job. If you don't think a second baseman makes a difference, I direct to you to the tape of our last home game. If someone with more range than Pete Orr is playing the position, we don't give up 5 runs. Maybe one or two, at the most.

I'm kinda pleased to see Bowden acknowledge, by implication, Guzman's limitations on defense. Two years is about right, and it gives the team a target date to develop or land a shortstop. Is Gonzalez going to be that guy? Not in 2 years. Either we find our shortstop in the draft, or this team will be gunning for a free agent in two years. The nub is the team is piecing together a strong defense. Hopefully, a good offense will come with that. And, a bullpen after that.

Posted by: Fisch Fry | July 22, 2008 11:55 PM | Report abuse

Thanks, Chico - what a post! A lot to absorb. The trade makes sense if Bonifacio is not Benardina II, who cannot hit major league pitching. I was clamoring for Rogerevan to be given his chance when Lastings went down, but there's a reason he was left in AA during the Great Offensive Drought. The Felipe-haters talk about his attitude, the look on his face, his errors, but if he was hitting .290 he'd go from ugly to Uggala-y. Bonifacio won't win any friends if he's rally-killing. It's very interesting that Trader Jim spoke of the importance of a 2d baseman's range helping pitching, and how long they had pursued Bonifacio. Is he justifying a traditional .220 2b?

Posted by: flynnie | July 23, 2008 2:14 AM | Report abuse

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Posted by: ламинат | August 11, 2008 5:00 PM | Report abuse

ela Een plaatje zegt alles, toch ? prx Het volledige rapport is hier te vinden. Lees natuurlijk y de blogposting. b l
Thanks for interesting post! gow
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Posted by: ламинат | August 13, 2008 2:37 AM | Report abuse

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