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Picks and Runs

Two questions (and perhaps they're familiar ones) for your Sunday morning.

ONE. Can the Nationals sign their top-5 picks?

TWO: Can the Nationals score?

They're struggling with the first mission because, this year, according to those with whom I've spoken, the Lerner family is adamant about sticking with a budget -- and that means they're not tossing out McGeary kind of money to those selected after the first round. As for Aaron Crow, the first-round pick, he allegedly wants what some in his camp have been calling a "premier" deal, similar to what Max Scherzer, taken 11th overall by Arizona in 2006, received. Scherzer, like Crow, is a Mizzou pitcher. And Scherzer was the very last pick from that year's class of first-round picks to come to terms. (Scherzer finally inked a four-year deal worth $4.3 million, with incentives that could add up to $6 million.)

Of course for now, much of it posturing. But this much I know: Difficulties in negotiation with Crow have exceeded anything typical.

Read more here.

Now for the second question.

Today, the Nats' offense tries to rebound from the Sheets-Sabathia punishment with Manny Parra (9-5, 4.18), a solid No. 3 starter, and another reason why Milwaukee has one of baseball's top rotations. Parra, though, has lost his last three starts, giving up five and six earned runs in the last two.

The Nationals haven't scored in their last 22 innings, going back to inning No. 5 on Thursday against Colorado. This hasn't been the first time a 1-2 combo has knocked the Nats into back-to-back shutouts. Brandon Webb and Dan Haren of Arizona did it on May 31/June 1. Derek Lowe and Clayton Kershaw did it on July 26/27. There's no great shame in getting shut down by an ace, but because the Nationals' lineup is already among the league's weakest, and because patience (or lack thereof) is their greatest susceptibility, the truly exceptional pitchers have a paint-by-numbers formula to shut things down. You can read the latest gamer here.

By Chico Harlan  |  August 10, 2008; 9:30 AM ET
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Interesting analysis. These hitters need a little more faith in something... but what?

New posted:

Anyone who wants a possible explanation of Manny's thinking should make an effort to remember that this is not the Boston Red Sox, it's a rebuilding team.

Look at the lineup again:

Bonifacio - 4 - permanent position
Guzman - 6 - permanent position
Zimmerman - 5 - permanent position
Kearns - 9
Milledge - 8 - permanent position
Flores - 2 - - permanent position
Belliard - 3
Harris - 7
Redding - 1

That leaves Kearns, Belliard, and Harris batting where no one expects them to in 2009, if they're even here. Which one of them do you want to bat fourth?

Belliard's been slumping and isn't really a power guy anyway.

Harris is too valuable both for keeping the pitcher from being the last out and for driving in Milledge and Flores.

Kearns is swinging a hot bat since his return and should see better pitches with Milledge behind him, why not see if all those doubles and homers come in a good situation? Might as well.

Batting order is an important factor in what sorts of pitches you see. Why would you screw with the heads of young hitters every night by shuffling them around to sub in that spot that they will never, ever occupy on the team just for some short term gain? The adjustments they have to make in just one position of the order are enough to keep them busy learning how to be major leaguers.

Posted by: Section 506 (Before moving) | August 10, 2008 9:41 AM

Posted by: Section 506 (Before moving) | August 10, 2008 9:44 AM | Report abuse

So where is the money going for this franchise that (a) ranks no. 1 in MLB for total income, (b) ranks in the bottom 5 of MLB for big league payroll, and (c) promised not to pocket a penny for at least the first 10 years?

Stan warned them that they would be called cheap bastards, but that's too easy for this group anyway. Cheap schmucks is what they are.

Posted by: Lerners ARE Cheap | August 10, 2008 10:02 AM | Report abuse

So what you're saying is, nobody can go back and see what record I predicted for 2008? YES!!!

Hmm, I was trying to search the archives to find the thread where somebody complained about Kearns getting a free pass (eh, not really) from those who comment on the blog, but it appears that comments may have disappeared from the archives with the recent upgrade. A pity, if so.

Posted by: natsfan1a | August 10, 2008 9:07 AM

Posted by: Section 3, my couch, with instantaneous relief | August 10, 2008 10:35 AM | Report abuse

Maybe he was thinking of something more like "mamzer," particularly "American mamzer," which is not nearly so pejorative. Not nice, but there's some grudging admiration therein.

Stan warned them that they would be called cheap bastards, but that's too easy for this group anyway. Cheap schmucks is what they are.

Posted by: Lerners ARE Cheap | August 10, 2008 10:02 AM

Posted by: Or not. | August 10, 2008 10:42 AM | Report abuse

I am already sick of the Lerner's and their nickle and diming. Sign your draft picks as the product we are seeing SUCKS. I am so close to not renewing my plan for next year and will spend my money on watching Ovechkin instead.

Posted by: mjwies11, washington, d.c. | August 10, 2008 10:50 AM | Report abuse

Cheap is somewhat OK when it comes to free agents signings, as long as the Nats provide a future. The fans can hang in there for a few years of mediocrity, as long as the franchise is building. If the Nats opened up a little to sign some quality free agents that could be traded for prospects, that could help the present and the future, but I'm willing to forego that and accept last place-- if they would just sign the picks.

If they get cheap on these draft picks just to save a few hundred thousand, that would be cheap and stupid. If they took Johnny Estrada-type money and applied it to this year's budget for signing picks, there would be no problem. Worst case would be Paul Lo Duca money. But either way, it is a wiser investment to sign the young guys than the old slow guys with rapidly declining skills.

Will be interesting to see, by August 15, if the Nats really do have a Plan.

Posted by: EdDC | August 10, 2008 11:25 AM | Report abuse

You have to draw a line somewhere. They went above slot last year because their farm system was so depleted. If you're known as a team that pays above slot, the picks are going to try and strong arm you.
I'm not saying they shouldn't pay above slot for guys they're high on (Crow, Hood), or guys that dropped (McGeary last year, Nieto this year), but they shouldn't pay way above slot.
The thing that really bugs me, though, is that they threw away $1.5MM on Mackowakiakiak, when that could have been used to sign two of those 5 picks.
As usual, Brian over at NFA ( is on top of this. Make a visit!

Posted by: Section 138 | August 10, 2008 11:28 AM | Report abuse

Really no choice here for Nats and Ownership.

They must sign top picks, yes all of them. Not signing your top draft picks sets back the organization for several years. These are the exact tools the Nats have been trying hard to acquire by trade, letting FAs walk, forgiving legal, moral and character issues, so you have to be willing to send a relatively small amount of money on the ones you picked out of the whole draft.

Posted by: JayB | August 10, 2008 11:34 AM | Report abuse

Good point, Sect. 3. :D


So what you're saying is, nobody can go back and see what record I predicted for 2008? YES!!!

Posted by: natsfan1a | August 10, 2008 11:35 AM | Report abuse

Speaking of the draft, new post up.

Posted by: natsfan1a | August 10, 2008 11:36 AM | Report abuse

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