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Nats Catcher Makes Topps Team

Nats minor league catcher Derek Norris was named to the Topps Short-Season/Rookie All-Star Team.

Norris led the Class A New York-Penn League with a Vermont franchise-record 63 walks and a .444 on-base percentage and threw out a league-best 47 percent of would-be basestealers.

The 19-year-old is the second youngest player named to the 2008 squad. Norris was selected by Washington in the fourth round of the 2007 first-year player draft.

By Tracee Hamilton  |  December 5, 2008; 8:26 AM ET
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Next: Let the Meetings Begin! Please!


He had an absolutely amazing 2 week stretch in VT at one point. I remember checking the box scores for his lines and being just awed. Kudos to Derek!

Posted by: Section138 | December 5, 2008 9:22 AM | Report abuse

(Cross-posting from the main Hondo thread... apologies...)

Facebookers, join the Hondo cause:

Posted by: Hendo1 | December 5, 2008 9:37 AM | Report abuse

Hey hey, this is some awesome news!

Posted by: JohninMpls | December 5, 2008 10:40 AM | Report abuse

Also... we have an online petition... you can express your support for the Nats hiring Frank Howard...

Posted by: wigi | December 5, 2008 11:20 AM | Report abuse

So Khalil Greene ends up in St. Louis, and The Team Who Must Not Be Named remains without a viable SS candidate. Meanwhile, Renteria lands in San Francisco, leaving the future of 23 year-old rookie Emmanuel Burriss in question.

What if - for the sake of argument - the Nats make a play for Burriss and ship Guzman up the Parkway? For one, Burriss could be more of a long-term fixture at short (if you think he's good enough). For two, Guzman's coming off a very solid year, and has a nice price tag to boot.

This raises even more questions in my mind.

1. Other than the much-discussed "extra pieces," who could be part of a trade offer? Essentially, who is untouchable? When the Nats traded Schneider last year, none of us saw it coming. Could Guzman be this offseason's Schneider?

2. What would you expect in return for a player like Guzman? If such a trade were to happen with our AL neighbors to the North, who would you like to see the Nats acquire? And could such a trade ever happen between these two teams?

3. Would Burriss even be an upgrade? Certainly, Guzman was good last year, but he's been injury-ridden for nearly all of his tenure in DC. Would a 23 year-old DC native who hit .283 with a .357 OBS in 95 games be better than a 30 year-old who hit .319 with a .345 OBP in 138 games (but who has a career .270 average)? If so, what would the Nats have to give up to get him?

I get excited thinking up these schemes. I wonder if this is how Bowden feels all the time (only without the leather pants and Segway).

Posted by: JohninMpls | December 5, 2008 12:03 PM | Report abuse

JiM - I think the dicey thing about trading Guz is that he took what was thought to be and turned out to be a below market contract to stay here. There were various reasons to do so, and there was some talk at the time that he did so to make up for his first 3 years here. Perhaps it'd be seen as a lack of good faith to deal him. Otherwise, he would be quite marketable because he is below market. Detroit, LAD, MN come to mind.

There's plenty in the O's system I'd consider, from Luke Scott to Brandon Snyder and some middling AA pitchers that I think would be fair value. If the Pie deal went forward (Olson for Pie so Olson could go to SD), then they may have even some spare OF parts.

Burriss might not be a short term upgrade, assuming he comes back to Earth, but has more of a future.

Posted by: jca-CrystalCity | December 5, 2008 12:36 PM | Report abuse

Brian - if you are here rather than your own blog, would you scoop yourself and tell us what people think of Norris's defense? Will he have to move from behind home like Daric Barton or Ryan Garko?

Posted by: jca-CrystalCity | December 5, 2008 12:37 PM | Report abuse

Nationals Farm Authority is reporting that Norris may also be on Baseball America's list of top ten Nationals prospects.

Posted by: natbisquit | December 5, 2008 1:18 PM | Report abuse

JiM, Renteria is only for 2 years, so I don't see the Giants dealing the kid. Besides, once we sign Tex and dump Nick, AK, and Meat, we would need someone making more that $1 million, won't we? Oh wait we have WMP and Belli making those big bucks - never mind!

Posted by: goexpos2 | December 5, 2008 1:20 PM | Report abuse

Some Tex news, courtesy of Tyler Kepner: "at the request of the agent Scott Boras," Brian Cashman met with Tex yesterday, down here in DC (Tex is home visiting family). Here's the link:

Posted by: CoverageisLacking | December 5, 2008 1:35 PM | Report abuse

Hey, if "The Team That Must Not Be Named (T3MNBN)" is going to catch on, maybe we should use "The Team That Must Be Re-named" for the other, pointy ball one.
Just a thought.

Posted by: CEvansJr | December 5, 2008 2:00 PM | Report abuse

I would like to think they discussed this possibility at the time, but you never know. Maybe that's one reason it was only 2 years--it was only through 2009, yes?
JiM - I think the dicey thing about trading Guz is that he took what was thought to be and turned out to be a below market contract to stay here. There were various reasons to do so, and there was some talk at the time that he did so to make up for his first 3 years here. Perhaps it'd be seen as a lack of good faith to deal him.
Posted by: jca-CrystalCity | December 5, 2008 12:36 PM

Posted by: CEvansJr | December 5, 2008 2:07 PM | Report abuse

Cashman met with Tex at the request of Boras - not sure what that means, unless it was because Boras didn't want to tell Tex himself that the Yanks might not break the bank on him...

Posted by: goexpos2 | December 5, 2008 2:16 PM | Report abuse

If the Sox win the Tex sweepstakes, then why don't we just trade for Big Papi?

Posted by: jctichen | December 5, 2008 2:36 PM | Report abuse

Hey, can you all help me out with a few spring training questions I have? I'm planning on going but can only go February 14-22. has this list of important dates:
Feb. 14, 2009
• First date injured players, pitchers and catchers may report to Spring Training.
• All World Baseball Classic players for the teams from China, Japan, South Korea and Chinese Taipei must report to Spring Training.
• All pitchers and catchers for other World Baseball Classic teams must report to Spring Training.

Feb. 17, 2009
• First date all players may report to Spring Training
• Remaining World Baseball Classic position players must report to Spring Training.

Feb. 22, 2009
Mandatory Spring Training reporting date for all players.

1. Is there enough to see to make it worth the trip?
2. Would you recommend going in the earlier part of this range (Feb. 14-18) or later (Feb. 18-22)?

Thanks for any advice you can give.

Posted by: jctichen | December 5, 2008 2:51 PM | Report abuse

"maybe we should use "The Team That Must Be Re-named" for the other, pointy ball one."

I like this idea!

Posted by: Section506 | December 5, 2008 2:55 PM | Report abuse

I like it. I like it a lot... strong armed catcher who gets on base at a high clip in the pipelines. Let's see what we can get from Oakland in a deal with him!

Posted by: Imjustlikemusiq | December 5, 2008 2:57 PM | Report abuse

While I would love to see Emmanuel playing here, there is always a certain amount of danger in bringing in a hometown guy (see: Griffey, Ken).

I am totally baffled by the Giants move, although they have gone back and forth as to whether they see Emmanuel at 2nd or Short. Renteria seems to be a move without a real purpose. What are they trying to accomplish this year? Maybe they looked at their minor league teams and saw all sorts of disappointment, and are trying to plug holes until the next phase of whatever kicks in.

Actually, Burriss is the classic leadoff hitter. Good plate discipline, ridiculous speed, etc. He is a slap hitter, so that would have to be part of the equation. If the Nats were to get Tex, that would probably provide a lineup with 2 solid RBI machines (Zimm & Tex), a Big Bopper (Dukes) and a good #2 in Milledge. It actually makes sense.

Posted by: Catcher50 | December 5, 2008 3:00 PM | Report abuse

"maybe we should use "The Team That Must Be Re-named" for the other, pointy ball one."

I've always liked "The Potato Team"...

Posted by: OldDude | December 5, 2008 3:04 PM | Report abuse is reporting that Brian Casman was in Washington yesterday to meet with Mark Teixeira and agent Scott Boras was also present. Not sure what all this means, but the fact that Cashman came to Washington to meet with Teixeira is kind of interesting (or maybe not, since Tex is from not to far away). This meeting was originally rumored to have taken place in CA. someone mentioned, WFED will air a special edition of Nats Talk Live next week. Additionally, is featuring a live chat with Jim Bowden in the near future (I want to say December 17, but I can't remember off the top of my head). I may be being a bit optimistic here, but maybe, just maybe, there will be some big news coming that might be worth talking about.

Posted by: BGinVA | December 5, 2008 3:29 PM | Report abuse

"While I would love to see Emmanuel playing here, there is always a certain amount of danger in bringing in a hometown guy (see: Griffey, Ken)."

I really don't think that's a fair comparison. Let me count the ways...

But the Giants are definitely making some moves (for better or worse) and they could definitely use a healthy Nick Johnson, IMO. Or an established OF.

Posted by: jctichen | December 5, 2008 3:29 PM | Report abuse

EVERYONE could definitely use a healthy Nick Johnson, and that's why he's still in baseball.

Posted by: Section506 | December 5, 2008 3:46 PM | Report abuse

So here's an interesting idea - not necessarily a realisitic one, but creative: Trade Austin Kearns to the Dodgers for Andruw Jones. Why should either team do this???? For the Dodgers, they can cut payroll to make room for Manny or Tex. Kemp or Pierre could play center and Kearns would make a good backup for their young outfielders Kemp and Ethier. For the Nats, Jones has only one year left on his two year deal. Although expensive, he would represent a big upgrade defensively in center, he just had a historically bad year and is unlikely to remain that bad, and if he bounces back to even half of his former offensive productivity he could bat cleanup for the Nats. If he is having a good year, the Nats could trade him for prospects in July and only have to pay hald his salary while helping to stock the minors for the future.

Now I realize this is far fetched and does not come without significant risk, but if the Dodgers could be induced to making the trade, the Nats would really only be risking one year's salary.

Posted by: natbisquit | December 5, 2008 3:55 PM | Report abuse

"he just had a historically bad year and is unlikely to remain that bad"

Unless he stopped taking steroids.

Posted by: Section506 | December 5, 2008 4:10 PM | Report abuse

506, Lots of snark for a Friday.

Posted by: jctichen | December 5, 2008 4:16 PM | Report abuse

I agree, jca-CC. It wouldn't be the classy thing at all. Then again, trading an injured Gary Majewski probably isn't very classy, either, but it's probably not fair for me to cast aspersions.

Right after I wrote that post, I realized just how many games Burriss had played at second, which means he could be an option even if you don't shop Guzman. Then again, it also makes it less important for the Giants to try to move Burriss, and the whole point of my idea was to capitalize on Baltimore's need at short. So, square one.

Still, when Catcher50 says, "It actually makes sense," I'm relieved to realize I'm not completely out of my mind.


JiM - I think the dicey thing about trading Guz is that he took what was thought to be and turned out to be a below market contract to stay here. There were various reasons to do so, and there was some talk at the time that he did so to make up for his first 3 years here. Perhaps it'd be seen as a lack of good faith to deal him.

Posted by: JohninMpls | December 5, 2008 4:26 PM | Report abuse

From when Norris was drafted, PerfectGameCrossChecker had this ... ", a plus arm behind the plate ... He’s a polished receiver behind the plate"

Posted by: Brian_ | December 5, 2008 4:50 PM | Report abuse

While I would love to take credit for all of it as snark, I was actually playing it straight with the Jones suspicion.

Check out his last six years in home run totals (and home runs per at bat):

2002: 35 (.069)
2003: 36 (.061)
2004: 29 (.051)
2005: 51 (.087)
2006: 41 (.073)
2007: 26 (.045)
2008: 3 (.014)

Posted by: Section506 | December 5, 2008 4:52 PM | Report abuse

While Tracee's post shows that Norris has a great arm (or went up against bad base stealers), I'm still curious about other aspects of his defense, from anyone who saw him. Is he projected to grow out of the position? Is he agile?

I hate to get too optimistic (we have / had Flynnie for that), but if he ever became good enough to push Flores out of the way in 2 - 3 years, we'd be sitting pretty in light of position scarcity, just when Flores gets expensive.

Posted by: jca-CrystalCity | December 5, 2008 4:58 PM | Report abuse

Wishing for a flynnie posting (hey, it worked for Hendo)...

Posted by: natsfan1a1 | December 5, 2008 5:01 PM | Report abuse

6', 210, not too big yet. 70 games played - that would be a lot of catchign. Was his secondary position DH? Let's hope he can maintain his performance.

Posted by: jca-CrystalCity | December 5, 2008 5:02 PM | Report abuse

The well at C is deeper than just Norris; Look for players like D.Rooney, A.Nieto, R.Martinez & D.Killian to rise through the Nationals' system as well.

Posted by: BinM | December 5, 2008 6:58 PM | Report abuse

@catcher50: I think SF may be looking at Burriss as a 2B possibility next year, since they let Ray Durham walk. The acquisition of Renteria just re-enforces that.

Posted by: BinM | December 5, 2008 7:01 PM | Report abuse

AP reports this evening that Greg Maddox will announce his retirement at the Winter Meetings on Monday.

Here's a hats off to the guy. 23 years. 355 wins. 4 Cy Youngs. 18 Gold Gloves. Congratulations on a great career, Greg.

Posted by: JohninMpls | December 5, 2008 7:59 PM | Report abuse

JiM - Allow me to second that kudo to Greg Maddux. I'm also thinking that the remainder of ATL's "big three" (Glavine & Smoltz) may be leaning that way as well. That would make for a tough HOF class to beat in 2013, but it would be fitting for those three to go out of the game together.

Posted by: BinM | December 5, 2008 8:10 PM | Report abuse

yeah, i'm w/506 on the concept of andruw jones. he's not coming off one bad season, he's coming off of two bad seasons. and consecutively worse seasons.

Posted by: sec231 | December 5, 2008 9:00 PM | Report abuse

Wanted to touch on a few things ...

1. Good for Derek Norris, and good for the Nats. As to his defense, I do see that in 61 minor-league games behind the dish, he has 24 passed balls. Compare to Flores's 25 in 187 games, or Montz's 22 in 256 (just a couple minor-league catchers I could think of). Did the Lake Monsters have a lot of knuckleballers this year? (The good news, of course, is that the kid is hitting well enough that he can name his own position.)

2. Guzman did give the Nats a discount, so maybe it is uncouth to trade him. There's another way to look at it, though: to give back for his crappy years, he took a below-market deal. The team can reap benefits in one of two ways: by a) paying him less money than they would otherwise have to or b) trading him for more than they could otherwise receive. Either way, it's a favor to the Nats that lets them capture extra value. Now, I have no idea how Guzman would see it, and I think that should be a consideration.

3. All of my hats are off to Greg Maddux, and may he never beat my team again. Indeed, a Hall of Fame class containing Maddux, Smoltz, and Glavine would be a thing of beauty.

Posted by: Scooter_ | December 5, 2008 9:34 PM | Report abuse

Brian - Thanks. polished receiver is nice to hear, but the passed ball rate raises an eyebrow. I'll assume that Rookie league pitchers don't always hit their spots so can cross up even good catchers.

Also - on AK - check out the hardball times article referenced a couple of posts back that predicts a come back in AK's BABIP. It may be a sell low moment, but, assuming the dodgers know this, who knows whether they'd take the risk to offload money. As a sox fan, I've thought AK would be a nice fit up there as a back up. My 3 way with the Lugo and Willis is unlikely unless the nats get cash (or maybe dump Dmitri), but I still think we underestimate the potential for dealing AK.

Posted by: jca-CrystalCity | December 5, 2008 11:36 PM | Report abuse

I would not make any long term judgements based on passed ball numbers in Short Season leagues. First, we can't be sure where the blame is to be laid. You are dealing with younger pitchers along with Norris. Additionally, from the minor league games I've seen over the last four years, the scoring seems to go passed ball many more times than wild pitch.

It is certainly something to watch but not enough to say he cannot stick at CA

Posted by: Brian_ | December 6, 2008 9:19 AM | Report abuse

jca's reference to Kearns's BABIP reminded me of something I've been wondering about for a while: could someone point me to some explanation as to why BABIP is actually a useful tool?

I understand that BABIP is looked at to assess whether a player has had a particularly unlucky (or lucky) run. But couldn't it just as easily be indicative of the simple truth that a player was hitting the snot out of the ball (or, conversely, hitting weak grounders) where he wasn't before? And, if so, how is BABIP helpful by itself? It seems to me that Kearns is a perfect example. When I watched him last year, he was letting himself get jammed all the time, ending up with weak grounders and pop-ups. So if his BABIP was low last year, that wouldn't surprise me--and it also wouldn't necessarily suggest to me that he was particularly unlucky, just that he was hitting horribly, even if he was a better hitter in previous years, making better contact and yielding a higher BABIP. So what am I missing?

Posted by: CoverageisLacking | December 6, 2008 12:58 PM | Report abuse

I think Scooter has a good point. We have two young shortstops and Guzman does not exactly fit out philosophy of bring through young talent. He also does not provide the speed or defence we need. His value is going to be very high right. Frankly I was a bit surprised that we trade Bonafacio and not Guzman at the time.

Posted by: soundbloke | December 6, 2008 12:59 PM | Report abuse

Guzman isn't a base-stealing threat, but he is a good baserunner... and he's reasonably fast. I think the whole point about Guzman is that in two years, the Nats will have a Major League-ready shortstop... whereas they might not now (other than Guzman). He would certainly not fit into the plan if you acquired him today, but we've already had him for four seasons... he's already a part of the plan. Trading him because he isn't 25 isn't inherently the right thing to do.

And by the way, if you haven't signed the Hondo petition: or

Posted by: wigi | December 6, 2008 1:33 PM | Report abuse

Wigi: I think you're right in saying that Guzman is part of the current plan - granted, he's starting to lose range defensively, but still has a solid arm & knows how to turn a double play. Offensively, even if he shows regression to the mean of his career numbers, I'd be happy with that.

Posted by: BinM | December 6, 2008 1:49 PM | Report abuse

Sort of interesting-Guzman had more hits this year than any national leaguer other than Reyes, Wright, and Pujols. Wright had 50 more at bats and only six more hits. Reyes had 20 more hits in 100 more at bats.
Also Flores had more RBIs than most major league catchers with many fewer at bats in most cases. Jeeves

Posted by: jcampbell1 | December 6, 2008 2:43 PM | Report abuse

jcamp - See, reasons for hope among all the gloom & doom. Add in Lannan's 20+ quality starts, RZimm & Dukes getting healthy & we're getting close to a core of good, young players with some ML experience.

Posted by: BinM | December 6, 2008 3:39 PM | Report abuse

First, on Norris: I, personally, would never make a long-term assessment of a minor-leaguer based on ... well, on anything. I just plain don't have the information that others do. (Off the top of my head, the pitchers could be wild, or the coaches could have radically changed his footwork -- because that's what the minors are for.) I should have made that plainer.

On Guzman, the thing is, among the kind of baseball fans I hear from, Cristian Guzman is a punch line. We know that he had eye surgery and suddenly rocketed up to major-league-average level, and other GMs probably know that too. But if I were looking for a shortstop, I'd very much want to see at least a month or two -- preferably another whole season -- of good production before I decided he was worthwhile. I mean, the man had four straight terrible seasons -- one mind-bogglingly so -- and has had just one good year since.

Since nobody has jumped in re BABIP, my murky understanding was always that a player has almost no control over his BABIP: for all players (at least the decent ones), career BABIP *always* hovers around a certain level. I always took this to mean that a low BABIP one year means he was unlucky, and a high BABIP means he was lucky. This may not fit your recollection of seeing Kearns, but that's the whole point of collecting stats over an entire season. What you see, even if you watch every game, is subject to so many biases that you need to step back to get a real sense of the player.

(Of course, if my grasp of BABIP is poor, please ignore that last paragraph.)

Posted by: Scooter_ | December 6, 2008 3:45 PM | Report abuse

Off subject, but don't want to wait for a new post - Salary structure for the Nats.
In 2009, there is $30.4M committed to six players (Belly, WMP, Slick, DaMeat, Kearns & Guzman). Another twenty-six players are up for contract renewal (should run about $11.5M), unless extended contracts are offered to players who become Arb-eligible in 2010 (not likely).
Finally, there are eight players on the roster eligible for arbitration this year - RZimm, Redding, Rivera, Colome, Hill, Harris, Olson & Willingham. Zimmerman might go all the way to arbitration, but IMO most will sign deals before their hearings; figure another $12.5-$14M in salary expense for the eight.
That would take the Nationals to about $56M in salary for 2009; I'd think the franchise could have a budget of somewhere between $75M - $85M for next year (unless the Lerners' are over-extended, given the real estate market).
With the current FA market & extending the salary costs over the next three to five years, how would you spend the available money?

Posted by: BinM | December 6, 2008 4:12 PM | Report abuse

Thanks, Scooter, for the response on BABIP. I understand that that is generally the argument, but I am not convinced that the argument is well-founded. So what I am looking for is some sort of analysis or discussion proving--or at least setting forth the argument from its proponents--as to why BABIP is a reliable and useful tool.

Posted by: CoverageisLacking | December 6, 2008 4:19 PM | Report abuse

Scooter - It's probably not good to single out BABIP as a "tell-all" statistic for a hitter, because it discounts strikeouts. I might be old-school, but I still feel that a BA/OBP/Runs produced (RS+RBI-HR) calculation is a better measure of the value of a hitter.

Posted by: BinM | December 6, 2008 4:30 PM | Report abuse

CiL - BABIP is useful in assessing the non-power hitters on a team. Is a player hitting into infield/outfield gaps, or is he hitting balls directly to a defensive player? It's a sabremetric "tweak" to the BA statistic; A fair season-end piece of information, but not meant to be called out from the rest of the available data.

Posted by: BinM | December 6, 2008 4:44 PM | Report abuse

CiL, Scooter: the Hardball Times article projected BABIP off of 13 factors that measured the quality of the hit, the quality of the pitch, speed, the park and season, and comared it to the actual BABIP. What the article suggests is not just that AK underperformed his historic numbers (and CiL's observation about him hitting more groundballs and pop-ups is backed up by data). Rather, it is that his BABIP was lower than what you would project from the quality of the ball in play. His hit quality was sub-par - projected .284 - but his actual BABIP was horrid - .242. Underperformance (projected v actual) one year does not predict underperformance the next. Just getting what he "deserves" would lead to a big bounce back. Throw in the conjecture that part of his problem was playing hurt, and there is a big chance for a turnaround.

Oddly, another snakebit guy was SuperWillie, whose .268 BABIP was .038 below his projected BABIP.

Here is the link again:

Posted by: jca-CrystalCity | December 6, 2008 4:48 PM | Report abuse

Were we all watching VaTech / BC? At least I have the Celts.

Posted by: jca-CrystalCity | December 6, 2008 4:50 PM | Report abuse

Since when is a minor league short season all-star announcement big news in a major league city right before the ML Winter Meeting? Can't the WaPo report on what's happening at the MLB level? What would happen if the team never released another press release all winter? Is everyone on vacation? Has the WaPo signed up for the AP/UPI news service yet?

Posted by: tomfoc31 | December 6, 2008 5:08 PM | Report abuse

jca...the easy answer is sign Teixeira and extend Zimmerman.

The Nats total commitments beyond this coming season are Guzman's salary in 2010 ($8 mil) and Kearns 2010 option buyout ($1 mil). Thats it. Of course there are potential extensions and arbitration for team controlled players. But the team has unbelievable payroll flexibility going forward. The 2010 free agent class doesnt look to include a marquee bat younger than 30. It makes sense now. Even if it means bringing in Varitek on a two year deal to make it happen.

As a side note, Ladson provides a "payroll summation" total for 2009 between $60-70 mil. No idea where he got that from. Whether it was leaked by the front office or Ladson just used the Yankees payroll and divided by 3, I don't get it.

Posted by: LosDoceOcho | December 6, 2008 5:28 PM | Report abuse

jca: Ouch - reading that analysis gave me a headache (but thanks for the link). I still thinks Kearns will stink up the joint in Nationals Park in '09 (if he earns the opportunity in ST). He can still field reasonably well, but should'nt be used for more than a #6 batter against LHSP, or a #7 against select RHSP. He's rapidly becoming a 4th OF, at best.

Posted by: BinM | December 6, 2008 5:48 PM | Report abuse

LDO: I don't think RZimm will extend unless the FO makes a committment to getting better - Teixiera would be a good step in that direction, but could the team afford both of them long-term?

Posted by: BinM | December 6, 2008 5:54 PM | Report abuse

LDO: Can you give me the link to Ladson's "payroll summation"? I'm with you, I think he's just spewing numbers out of his butt.

Posted by: BinM | December 6, 2008 5:57 PM | Report abuse

LDO (re-redux): That's just commitments from 2008 moving forward. By 2010, the team would hope to have RZimm & maybe a couple of others (1B dujour, Lannan?) on-board long term; additional controlled-arbitration cases weigh into that as well.
As much as I have a "man-crush" on Teixiera right now, I'm not sure the franchise could afford him & RZimm & still be able to get a pitching staff & surrounding cast going forward.

Posted by: BinM | December 6, 2008 6:07 PM | Report abuse

Thanks for the link, jca. That analysis of coming up with an expected BABIP based on a variety of data and comparing it to actual BABIP is interesting and is at least methodically defensible. It takes qualitative differences among hitters and batted balls into account and tries to measure their effect.

The use of BABIP I was commenting on earlier is different, and one that does not take these other factors into account. Specifically, I've seen too many amateur analysts (often bloggers) just look in isolation at a guy's BABIP (or a pitcher's BABIP against) to conclude that a given player was lucky or unlucky and proclaim that his numbers will likely be better the next year, or cannot be sustained (in connection with the so-called "lucky" players). I don't believe that an unrefined analysis like that is sound. Some pitchers learn command and their BABIP against goes down, but that is not luck. Some hitters learn how to make better contact and to spray the ball, and that is not luck either, but their BABIP would go up. An analysis like the one in the Hardball Times though would seem to take this kind of stuff into account.

Posted by: CoverageisLacking | December 6, 2008 6:13 PM | Report abuse

Ladson URL:

The Nats could easily afford extending Zimmerman and signing Teixeira, even if they dont trade Johnson. $26-27 mil for both in 2009 is my guess. Total payroll would be about $80 mil. with the current 40 man roster plus Teixeira.

Contract extensions which buyout arbitration years plus a year or two of free agency are back loaded. Take Pedroia's recent extension as an example. He has a year less service time than Zimmerman, so his 2010 salary ($3.5 mil - same as Tulowitzki's by the way) should be close to Zim's 2009 salary. Yet Pedroia will make $10 mil in 2013 (again, same as Tulowitzki), which would have been Pedroia's first year of free agency.

By the time Zimmerman's contract reaches eight digits a year, the Nats payroll will be free of current contract mistakes.

Posted by: LosDoceOcho | December 6, 2008 6:45 PM | Report abuse

Okay, so I finally read the article that jcaTBNL linked to, and used a google to do a little more research. I see now that my fourth-hand understanding of BABIP was woefully inadequate. The Hardball Times article makes clear that hitters do have some control over their BABIP, and that this has been known for some time. It's pitchers who have less influence over BABIP, and apparently that understanding is being tweaked as well. CiL, I found this article to be a great overview of the value of pitchers' BABIP; you might like it too:

(Given your skepticism of pitchers' lack of influence, here are a few sentences to whet your appetite: "What [Voros McCracken] found was that if you eliminated those elements of pitching that the team's defense has no effect on ... you'd see that [BABIP] fluctuated wildly, even for guys that were considered "hard to hit," like in-their-prime hurlers like Greg Maddux and Randy Johnson.")

((Oh, and can I say just one more thing? I'm a bit squishy about the Hardball Times article. I can't quibble with their ultimate point, but I found some of their analysis to be a bit puzzling and not very rigorous. This is neither here nor there, but I just wanted to say that.))

Posted by: Scooter_ | December 7, 2008 12:10 AM | Report abuse

@ jctitchen -- Maybe I'm jut not a big enough baseball nut, but I don't understand why you would want to go to Spring Training before they even start playing games.. I've been to Spring in Arizona. It's kinda cool to major leaguers play the game for a few bucks, up close, in great weather. Beyond that, I don't get it.

Why the beck is everyone trying to unload Guzzy? They're a much better team when he's in the line up -- much, much better. And, why trade him for another SS prospect? Smiley's going to arrive in DC in a few years. In the meantime, that other Gonzalez might be halfway decent. Or, we put Rhinehart at second, and shift Hernandez to this natural position, at SS. Re-signing Guzzy was right thing. So, why talk about trading him? He's not the best defensively, but there are worse...and he has really blossomed as a hitter. His best years will probably be the next two. Let's see them in a Nats' uniform.

Posted by: fischy | December 7, 2008 12:25 AM | Report abuse

Some more interesting stats on Guzman-In the areas of BA, SLG, OBA, and Total Bases, only five shortstops in ALL of baseball had as good or better stats: Ramirez, Reyes, Drew, Hardy(not by much), Peraltra, and Aviles. Such big names as Tejada, Jeter, Young, Rollins, Cabrera, and Renteria were behind Guzman in at least three of the four areas. Young, Tejada, Cabrera, and Renteria in all four.
Granted other stats such as RBIs are significant but often depend on others in the line up. The Nats didn't have a Hamilton or Kinsler, for example.

Posted by: jcampbell1 | December 7, 2008 10:58 AM | Report abuse

Fischy, Jeeves - I'm not sure anyone is in the "lets' run Guz out of town" mode anymore, until he changes his name to Austin Kearns or puts a 2005 calendar in his locker. No one expects that, or the Spanish Inquisition.

(A pause . . . OK to continue post)

I think we got on this little string of ideas for moving him mostly because a few of us have an attachment to Emanuel Burriss as a DC kid who looks like he'll be a good pro. Burriss and Justin Maxwell, and other area kids, will always have a following here (Jeeves - think Larry Walker, Real Cormier, and Matt Stairs).

In fact, because we are impressed with how Guzzie came around last year, some of us speculate he'd be a great fit on contenders that are looking for SS (like Detroit) and speculate he could bring back an array of prospects that might help down the line. Fischy, you even point out that we have replacements for him on the 25 man (known as "Alberto Anderson," no longer "Bonihernalez") and in the system. But for off the field considerations (i.e., the agreement to a below market contract as a matter of good faith and the reputation impact to the Nats if we dealt him), he'd be at almost the exact max value moment. I think this was why Dave Sheinin in particular was critical of the resigning, even at reasonable to team favorable money.

Posted by: jca-CrystalCity | December 7, 2008 1:02 PM | Report abuse

LDO - Back to the Teixeira signing; What would you offer him, long term? Here's a possible scenario from my end.
Offer #1 (8-yr+, $190M+)
$12M signing bonus, deferred to yrs 1-3 @2%
2009 = $16.5+4.0M
2010 = $20.5+4.3M
2011 = 23.5+4.4M
2012 = $25M+ performance clauses
2013 = $26M+
2014 = $27.5M+ w/opt-out ($151M guarantee)
2015 = $29M, guaranteed if no opt-out
2016 = $25M+VO / $10M club buy-out
2017 = $22M mutual option?

Posted by: BinM | December 7, 2008 2:56 PM | Report abuse

jca, not for a second am I suggesting we don't trade Guzman. I agree that if we manage a decent trade when he's at his peak, then by all means go for it.
I was just facinated by how well Guzman did offensively when comparing him to other higher profile shortstops.
And, out of curiosity, how did you know I was Canadian. (I assumed that by your reference to Walker et al.) Jeeves

Posted by: jcampbell1 | December 7, 2008 3:09 PM | Report abuse

Jeeves, fischy, et al - It may be that Guzman has risen to the top of the "who's still got value" pile for some of the bloggers. I'd like to see the Nats' get another years' service from Guzman - I'm not convinced that the two-headed monster (Alberto Anderson) is ready for prime time yet.

Posted by: BinM | December 7, 2008 3:29 PM | Report abuse


I don't think you'd have to go higher than 20 million/year avg., it's just a question of how many years they want to give him. Angels seem to think that 6 years is stretching it. I mean, Man-ny opted out of the last two years of his contract. They could do the same thing with Tex, give him player options for two additional years. He'd still be peak trade-value after 3 or 4 years. Even if you sign him for 10, they can void the last two and probably still give him what he wants. I hope anyway.

Posted by: Brue | December 7, 2008 4:20 PM | Report abuse

Brue - If the Nats' really hope to have a shot at him, they have to pay over-market value; that's why I ran over the $20M/yr Boros stated as the baseline. The devil could be in the details as to when no-trade / opt-out options come into effect, as well as performance bonuses.

Posted by: BinM | December 7, 2008 4:40 PM | Report abuse

Yeah the performance bonuses and signing bonus are football negotiating moves because of the salary cap. Deferred payment and all that.
He'll have maximum incentive achieved if he feels like he's getting paid, but still has some control over his life for a certain length of time. No-trade, No-trade except with 4 teams, No-Trade waived completely.

Posted by: Brue | December 7, 2008 5:00 PM | Report abuse

A few thoughts on RZimm - Offensively, he had an off-year in 2008, but probably still falls in the top-half of NL 3B. On the defensive side, he is easily in the top three, with only Kouzamanoff, DeWitt & Glaus as challengers.
IMO, the Nats' should offer a deal along the lines of Braun's (8-yr, $45M) with MIL - say 5+years, $46M+ ($4M bonus ['09-10], 4M, 6.5, 8.5, 10.5, 12.5M), w/options for 2014 & 2015.

Posted by: BinM | December 7, 2008 5:36 PM | Report abuse

More fill in:

Burriss...His natural position is SS. He is more than adequate at 2b, but the real question is where in the batting order do you put him. He works as a leadoff hitter or, in the A/L as a 9 (Leadoff b), but anywhere else probably does not take advantage of his skills. I'm not questioning SF's thought in signing Renteria, I'm just questioning their general process.

Zimm...'08 was probably an off year and his agent is (and this appears to be so) not particularly anxious to sign long term this winter. If '09 is closer to his potential, the delay will work to his benefit.

Guzzie. Agreed, the next two years will likely be his best and then a slow downhill slide. The answer, either trade him at the end of July or after the season. If you wait 'til after '10, when Smiley will probably be ML ready, you are too late.

Tex. Looks the market will be 20 Mil. Question is for how long. I've said it before, and I'll say it again: this is one player you probably can afford to overpay. Do it!

Posted by: Catcher50 | December 7, 2008 5:57 PM | Report abuse

what about signing furcal to be shortstop and guzman play second base?

Posted by: longterm | December 7, 2008 5:58 PM | Report abuse

@CA50 - Point 1) Unless SF makes another deal, Burriss looks like their 2B to start the season. Point 2) Guzman will be with the Nats' for 2009, but will become trade-bait in the off-season. Point 3) Agreed, but still agonizing over what that does to the overall salary structure (12 players Arbitration-eligible in 2010).

@longterm - Say what - Guzman at 2B? Where or how did you come up with that?

Posted by: BinM | December 7, 2008 6:09 PM | Report abuse

If the roster holds course (which it won't), the Nationals' 2010 Arbitration class would include the following players: (2nd-yr) RZimm, Redding, Rivera, Colome, Harris, Olson, Willingham; (1st-yr) Milledge, Bergmann, Hanrahan, Hill & Nieves.
Of that list, Redding, Colome, Bergmann, Hill & Nieves will likely be gone by 2010; that will leave the team with seven cases to sign / adjudicate going forward.
If the FO commits to big contracts for Teixeira & RZimm, how many of these players (or their replacements) can they afford?
Additionally, players like Flores, Dukes & Lannan all become Arb-eligible in 2011.

Posted by: BinM | December 7, 2008 6:40 PM | Report abuse

Good gosh, BinM. Zimmerman in the top half of NL third basemen offensively? I'm into fantasy baseball. Practically every publicaion on this topic last year had Zimm as #5 in all of baseball. Only Rodriquez, Cabrera(now at first), Wright, and Braun(now in left field), were ranked higher. Defensively, he might be the best in all of baseball. He was injured this year which did not give us a read.
I do agree with your money, however.

Posted by: jcampbell1 | December 7, 2008 9:12 PM | Report abuse

BinM, you've asked a few times, in essence, whether the Nationals can afford to pay Teixeira and Zimmerman (along with the sundry other dudes needed to fill out a roster). I'm a bit puzzled: if a team can't afford to have just two elite position players, how on earth would said team ever win a World Serious? You guys here know a lot more about players' salaries than I do, so maybe I'm just showing my naivete, but seriously. Is paying two fellows really a concern?

Posted by: Scooter_ | December 7, 2008 9:52 PM | Report abuse

>what about signing furcal to be shortstop and guzman play second base?

Or vice versa. Furcal is gonna be cheap.

Posted by: Brue | December 7, 2008 9:58 PM | Report abuse

Anyone catch MLB Live's Weekend Edition on XM with Lee Hamilton? Hacksaw mentioned a Washington area article stating Teixeira wasnt worth what the Nats are willing to pay. Mainly because he isn't a league leader in offensive categories and shouldnt be paid as such.

I haven't seen the article. Anyone come across it?

Posted by: LosDoceOcho | December 7, 2008 10:54 PM | Report abuse

Here is my guess on a Nationals/Teixeira deal. I'll preface this by saying I hope he resigns with the Angels, but this is what I think the Nats have to do to get him.

8 years - $184 million

My rationale - Teixeira rejected a Rangers extension that would have given him $18 mil over his first 6 free agent years. A new offer will have to beat the average annual salary at least and most likely the contract length.

Boras wants to set records. Take the AROD deal out of the discussion. But Andruw Jones, Ordonez, Carlos Lee, Hunter and Beltran will all be $18 mil+/yr guys next year. Thats just the bats. Cabrera, Jeter and Vernon Wells also have long term deals averaging at least $18 mil/season. I see $20 mil as the lowest average annual salary possible for any team.

Teixeira is a players union guy, but also wants to play for a winner. Three big market contenders have $30+ mil to work with this offseason. One of them will offer at least $20 mil/yr. If competing deals are close, Tex goes to the contender. The Nats have to go above and beyond.

I may be misjudging a poor economy's effect on baseball. But Boras doesn't mess up. ARod opts out and it looks like he left money on the table? Nope, he signs a $275 mil extension. Pedro Alvarez files a union grievance and loses a $6 mil signing bonus? Nope, he signs a revised contract for $6.3+ mil.

So, Boras is good and wants to set records. Plus, there are contenders willing to pay. The Nats have to overspend to get it done.

Posted by: LosDoceOcho | December 8, 2008 12:20 AM | Report abuse

I like Teixeira. I'm a Braves fan and went to Georgia Tech. But it would be the worst possible move for the Nats. The only possible upside is protection for the guys ahead of him in the lineup. I'd rather see Wily Mo Pena playing first. I can only imagine what he'd do with a full season at the plate.

Johnny Estrada had his 4 best years prior to coming to Washington. His numbers were good enough for me to dislike McCann being given a shot. How did he only get 14 starts and avg. 2 at bats in 23 games? Will Nieves is just as old and Jesus' numbers were a down grade to Estrada's.

I get the impression so far that the Nat's are being picked apart, both in playing time and overall critisism over their play. You'd think that up and coming players would come here to excel. If they work hard in the off-season and winter leagues, they could get zen and focus like on a golf course, with plenty of opportunity afforded. They should be trading the next new Teixeira's for boo-coo draft picks and prospects.

Posted by: chavez66 | December 8, 2008 8:55 AM | Report abuse

Jeeves - you are an immortal here (at least I think so). Of course we remember a loyal Expo fan who still follows your former team. Mjames too.

Brue - I'm still thinking that, when he finally signs, Teixeira ends up with the 2d highest AAV of any position player. More than $20 million/yr. I don't see length working to his advantage. The talk is he wants 10 years, but, Boras has negotiated a few deals that have nominal length but with either player opt outs (A-Rod, Drew with the the Dodgers) or voidable years in the event of a player falling apart (Pudge, JD Drew with the Red Sox). Something that really locks in $23-24 million for 5 or 6 years, with an opt-out, and greater nominal length, would give Tex the option of going back on the market at 33 or 34, still young enough for another big contract. (By the way, Manny did not opt out - he played out his 8 yrs, $160 million, and had the Red Sox agree to waive his last 2 option years at $20 million each in exchang efor waiving his 10/5 rights).

As for MI free agents, O-Dog attracts me more than Furcal, partially due to Guz being under contract, partially due a belief that at least Alberto has a major league SS glove already and could hold down the position if Guz were traded for whatever.

Posted by: jca-CrystalCity | December 8, 2008 9:21 AM | Report abuse

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