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The Ten Biggest Developments of '08

With the year winding down, I thought it might be appropriate -- even obligatory -- to look back on the season that was. The good news is, the Nats lost only 0.279 games per day, which doesn't sound like much when you see it printed like that. The additional good news is, 2009 ought to be better. And not just for Stephen Strasburg's bank account.

Anyway, I spent a little time today brainstorming the most significant Washington Nationals developments of 2008 -- and below, I plead for your help in rank-ordering them. By "significant," I'm talking about developments of resonant importance. Things that will keep their fingerprint on this franchise as it heads into the next year. Or, simply, things that you'll remember well into next year.

2008.jpg


Click Here to take the survey

(I realize you can't see the survey results, but I needed to find a poll widget that allowed one to rank-order multiple choices. I will publish the results in 48 hours.)

By Chico Harlan  |  December 29, 2008; 4:49 PM ET
 
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Comments

Chico: That was cool; thanks. I tried to justify ranking something (anything) above the 'Nats lose 102' option. But in the end, that's how teams are measured - shiny new parks, shiny big contracts offered to FA's and shiny new eyeballs for your shortstop notwithstanding.

Posted by: Bethesdangit | December 29, 2008 3:13 PM | Report abuse

As difficult and frustrating as 2008 was, many of these "negatives" will turn out to be "positives" for 2009. Last year was the "perfect storm" of what could go wrong... Our young players got lots of experience...we have two high draft picks... we have a new stadium to fund growth... pain is soon forgotten, hope is eternal! So lets play two!

Posted by: 1of9000 | December 29, 2008 3:27 PM | Report abuse

I selected "Crow flies" as option number 1, even though I don't personally ascribe too much blame to the Nationals in the fiasco (I know others here differ). However, one cannot underscore the accelerated impact that a top-10 pick can have on a major league club (see, e.g., David Price).

I think we will all need to measure the impact of what happened with Crow by comparing the 2009 pick (who now must be signed) to Crow's career to see what is versus what could have been. To me, the loss of Crow himself was not egregious, but the unknown commodity that we are awaiting as essentially his direct replacement is both exciting and scary. In my view, there are relatively few situations in which you can so directly compare/second-guess two alternative outcomes.

Posted by: faNATic | December 29, 2008 3:40 PM | Report abuse

Very well said, faNATic. That's a great point about comparing the two alternatives.

As I thought about the list, and re-did my order several times, the new park kept moving up. I was surprised at how high I ended up ranking it, but that shiny new stadium will certainly affect the franchise for years to come. It was a tough list to rank, though, because I think young Mr. Harlan picked some good candidates.

Posted by: Scooter_ | December 29, 2008 3:47 PM | Report abuse

Oh, and thanks to 1a for the link to find the MLB Network's channel. The channel number on my provider is in the 200s. I'm pretty sure that's not part of "expanded basic" or whatever they call what I've got. Oh well.

Posted by: Scooter_ | December 29, 2008 3:49 PM | Report abuse

Interesting the difference in perspective between a reporter and a fan... When I read developments, I was thinking, POSITIVE developments... and kinda wondered where one would find ten of those.

I submitted my choices... but it wasn't fun.

Posted by: wigi | December 29, 2008 3:55 PM | Report abuse

"Nats lose 102" as #1. In an attempt to put some positive on the big negative, this team vastly overachieved in '07 and vehemently underachieved in '08. However, barring further offseason adventures, the Nats should not be in the same position next year as the players/manager should gain experience in this debacle and put forth a better effort.

Plus, having a clueless Front Office doesn't help either.

Nats '09 record: 72-90

Posted by: thisismydcsportsopinion | December 29, 2008 3:55 PM | Report abuse

Chico:

Thanks for doing this. It's very interesting to contemplate. An interesting but in the end probably too complicated addition might have been to correlate answers with a question about what direction the responder thought the franchise was going in. I found many of my decisions to be a referendum on the organization's trajectory.

I ranked the ball park opening #1. My reason being that it cemented baseball's presence in the city. I wasn't convinced baseball would stay here until that ball park opened. In addition revenue streams will help down the road.

Also high on my list were the pink slips and the injuries. I would have added "medical staff" to your choice about the firing of the coaching staff. Their incompetence was as egregious as the coaches.

Guzman's emergence was last for me. It's nice he's back to his all-star level, but I don't think it has a long term impact. Crow was #9. He bungled it more than the Nats did. I'm glad he's not here and hopefully our '09 pick will have some sense.

Lastly I'd add Ryan Zimmerman to the "prospects develop" list. I know it doesn't quite fit, but he's in that age range and is a foundational piece.

#4

Posted by: db423 | December 29, 2008 3:59 PM | Report abuse

I thought the Teixeira loss was more significant than the Crow loss. For one thing, we still get a top ten pick next year to replace Crow. Teixeira was, evidently, a one-time special chance. Still, I thought they both ranked toward the middle.

Posted by: NatsNut | December 29, 2008 4:02 PM | Report abuse

I ranked Crow as number 10. The only lasting impact his non-signing will have is with the Nats reputation with agents... and I suspect that has mostly been undone by the Nats participation in the Teixeira negotiations... Even if Crow turns out to be "all that", he would have to be head and shoulders above whatever we get with our 9A pick to even be worthy of a mention beyond this upcoming season's draft. Considering that he basically took the year off last year, I bet that isn't likely.

Posted by: wigi | December 29, 2008 4:05 PM | Report abuse

Rankings - I think the 102 was a lasting hit to the reputation, regardless of injuries or talent, so that has to be #1. Reputation already cost us our target FA (we offered more, but he wanted to go to a "contender"). Had we just finished at 70 wins, we might have been better able to sell the Nats to Tex. The young core's development I think will be more important in the long run than the failure to sign Crow (a potential #1, but TINSTAAPP and a bad delivery) because we will be in position to grab 2 very good prospects this draft. The injuries are less significant in the long run but explain much of the 102.

Natsbisquit - Thanks for the defensive info. The curious thing about Hudson is that John Dewan, the author of the Fielding Bible and the developer of the zone rating, has Hudson #5 in his Fielding Bible awards, but the RZR (revised zone ratings) using Dewan's Baseball Info Solutions data had Hudson dead last among the "qualified" 2d basemen in MLB (I think that's a minimum of 800 inningsinthe field), and Fangraphs UZR/150 (another variant prorated over 150 games) also had him quite low. Compare to Mark Ellis, who made 30 more outs with one fewer ball hit into the fielding zone when he played). I wonder if Hudson is living off of his fielding reputation at this point?

Soundbloke - I'm full of doubt about Hernandez's ability to hit well enough to justify his glove. That's also the issue with the Alberto G. If I had a choice of one spot to give up the bat and go with the glove, it'd be SS (then catcher, then CF). Second is more of an offensive position. I don't mind keeping Anderson H on the roster, especially if we do not land Hudson, but I'd prefer not to concede a starting spot to him (BTW - with no Hudson, I'd really prefer a starting platoon of Willie and Belli, with AH as a frequent PR / defensive replacement and AG in AAA. No one has ever bit on that suggestion, so I'm guessing the real baseball people think they cannot field the position well enough).

Posted by: jca-CrystalCity | December 29, 2008 4:20 PM | Report abuse

Criticism of Manny?? That doesn't even make the top 50. Now if he starts the season without an extension then it's a story.

No mention of the trade to pick up a "top or (our) order" lefty and corner OF'er?

Posted by: pwilly | December 29, 2008 4:45 PM | Report abuse

I think the three big items are the new park, the development of young talent, and the pink slips - perhaps better stated as the raft of new talent coaches brought on. These are our promise for the future. Crow and even Teixeira will ultimately just be a bump in the road.

Posted by: Traveler8 | December 29, 2008 4:49 PM | Report abuse

Just so you know, the data this QuestionPro widget compiles is quite comprehensive and cool. I can see it grow in real time, but as I said, I'll wait until Dec. 31 to hit you up with some more thorough data. Just so I can give this poll a little love, I bumped it up to the NJ lead again -- no slight intended for Daniel Cabrera. Thanks for the votes and thoughts.

Posted by: Chico Harlan | December 29, 2008 4:59 PM | Report abuse

Chico - you ought to get Nate Silver to comment because this combines his two loves - polls and baseball (actually, he'd say this is unscientific, but then he might aggregate the results of similar polls done by other websites and get a meta read).

So, I guess Mark Henderson is an upgrade for the TTMNBN's offseason basketball team over their previous power forward who signed with the Nats.

Posted by: jca-CrystalCity | December 29, 2008 5:16 PM | Report abuse

102 was number one for me. It's how this year was judged by the fans, by other players, and by the baseball chattering class.

I put the Crow non-signing just above the Teixeira chase, largely because I felt like it further sullied the Nationals reputation, thereby making it even more difficult to sign Tex. It would have been a greater impact to sign Teixeira, but it should have been easier to sign Crow.

All great picks by Chico, though. Some were very close, and many were interrelated. Also, the picture next to the 102 losses is priceless.

During the offseason, no matter how bad my day is going, I can always say, "Hey, at least the Nats aren't losing 0.279 games today."

Posted by: JohninMpls | December 29, 2008 5:24 PM | Report abuse

No, they just think a 34-y.o. LH junkballer is a replacement for Cabrera.

Posted by: BinM | December 29, 2008 5:30 PM | Report abuse

Chico: Since you're plugged in, any chance on getting health status / resumed baseball activities reports on the walking wounded from 2008 (Hill, Matt Chico, WMP, Kearns)?

Posted by: BinM | December 29, 2008 5:38 PM | Report abuse

I'm surprised that there were scant references to The Tex Chase, as I thought that was the most significant event: to me, it completely changed my thinking of team management.

Losing 102 was a symptom of all that impacts the organization, and I saw the root cause as ownership taking over a franchise without regard of what I wanted to see, which is exciting professional baseball. So as the year unfolded, I wasn't surprised by the performance nor any of the peripheral events, e.g., Crow, questionable coaching, etc. I just looked at it as function of a poor MLB selection of team ownership.

However, the last few weeks have had a huge impact on my impressions of management: they proved to me that they are very serious about putting out an exciting product between the foul lines. So although The Tex Chase ended in the Bronx, it showed that the Nats are not solely focused on the short term budget, but long term success.

Posted by: joemktg1 | December 29, 2008 5:43 PM | Report abuse

I see that I am in the minority here but I think that the catastrophic list of injuries was the number 1 story. This lead directly to the 102 loss season and the fans' dissatisfaction with the franchise. The opening of the new park was so much anticipated that it dominated the first four months of the year and it got my #2. Number 3 was the 102 losses which will link to the signing of Strassburg, which may be the #1 story of 2009.

Posted by: driley | December 29, 2008 5:45 PM | Report abuse

I hadn't shared my responses until now, but FWIW, joemktng, I also had the Teix chase as my most significant event. My other top picks were the opening of Nats Park (2) and the injuries (3), which IMO had an impact on the win-loss record.

p.s. to pwilly, my last place was the Manny halo loss.

Posted by: natsfan1a1 | December 29, 2008 6:06 PM | Report abuse

Opening the ballpark is #1 for me. No ballpark, no baseball team. No baseball team, nothing else matters/happens. It's the ballpark that makes everything happen.

#10 is the past season. Reference PAST. Time to move on folks. We'll get 'em next year!

Posted by: dand187 | December 29, 2008 6:10 PM | Report abuse

Just to show that the farm system is showing some yield - here's a breakdown of the current 40-man pitchers...
Acquired by trade (2)- L. Atilano, S. Olsen.
Acquired by F/A signing (2)- S. Shell, D. Cabrera.
Acquired via Rule-5 (1)- T. Young.
Acquired via draft / In'tl (14)- C. Balestar, J. Bergmann, M. Chico, T. Clippard, R. Detwiler, M. Estrada, J. Hanrahan, S. Hill, M. Hinckley, J. Lannan, S. Martis, G. Mock, M. O'Conner, S. Rivera.

Does that list look right?

Posted by: BinM | December 29, 2008 6:15 PM | Report abuse

Just a quick look: Clippard and Hanrahan came from other organizations

Posted by: db423 | December 29, 2008 6:20 PM | Report abuse

So did Chico

Posted by: db423 | December 29, 2008 6:21 PM | Report abuse

and Mock and Martis and Rivera. These six guys came in trades or as minor league FAs. I wouldn't count any of them as our farm system "showing yield".

Posted by: db423 | December 29, 2008 6:30 PM | Report abuse

To be clear though, it's not surprising that 11 of the Nats 19 pitchers came from other systems. MLB killed their system.

We won't be able to pass judgment on the system until 2010 at best. Reading the tea leaves, I don't think it looks great. It'll probably be about MLB average. I just don't see the dominant prospects.

Posted by: db423 | December 29, 2008 6:34 PM | Report abuse

On the field-player side, the splits are a little different (again, 40-man roster; 19 players)...
Acquired by trade (7)- OF E. Dukes, IF A. Gonzalez, IF A. Hernandez, 1B N. Johnson, OF A. Kearns, OF L. Milledge, OF J. Willingham.
Acquired by F/A signing (4)- IF R. Belliard, SS C. Guzman, IF/OF W. Harris, C W. Nieves.
Acquired by Rule-5 (1)- C J. Flores.
Acquired by draft / In'tl. (7)- OF R. Bernadina, IF/OF K. Casto, OF L. Davis, SS I. Desmond, OF J. Maxwell, C L. Montz, 3B R. Zimmerman.

Posted by: BinM | December 29, 2008 6:39 PM | Report abuse

#4: Thanks for the feedback, I'll make corrections.

Posted by: BinM | December 29, 2008 6:41 PM | Report abuse

I realize these "look backs" are very popular this time of year. But given how bad EVERYTHING went for this team in 2008, I'd rather look ahead to next year hoping not for a reprise.

Posted by: leetee1955 | December 29, 2008 6:53 PM | Report abuse

Jayson Stark of ESPN.com is reporting that the Dodgers may be in on signing Adam Dunn, Will another one slip away?

http://sports.espn.go.com/mlb/news/story?id=3798366

Posted by: leetee1955 | December 29, 2008 7:09 PM | Report abuse

leetee: By all means, project! Take a stand, be a "voice in the wilderness" - you've done it before (you're a member of the NJ Optimists' club, in good standing).

Posted by: BinM | December 29, 2008 7:13 PM | Report abuse

"Jayson Stark of ESPN.com is reporting that the Dodgers may be in on signing Adam Dunn, Will another one slip away?"

It's looking like the Dodgers are possibly the only realistic landing spot for Manny Ramirez other than the Nationals. If LA signs Dunn, that opens the door for us to grab Manny - probably cheap, too. That would be a great outcome, if you ask me.

Posted by: TheGhostOfHatemasPast | December 29, 2008 7:25 PM | Report abuse

Meanwhile, under "Boras' Big Top", we have Oliver Perez entering ring 3, Lowe currently in the spotlight ring (NYM, LAD, ???), and Manny staying in ring #1 (LAD, NYY), according to the "blah-blah-blah".

Posted by: BinM | December 29, 2008 7:37 PM | Report abuse

I would've included the Lerner's rent strike as one of the top stories. While the Tex pursuit may have abated the "Lerners Are Cheep!!!1!!" cries, the refusal to pay rent on a stadium that the team was using and publicly praising was absolutely disgusting, unforgivable, and contributed heavily to the cheap image.

Posted by: jrm212k | December 29, 2008 7:39 PM | Report abuse

While the idea of getting Manny cheap may seem attractive, the possible downside of no left-handed power bat and the definite downside of simply having Manny on the team would seem to indicate a better route would be Dunn or pursuing another bat via trade.

Posted by: GoNats21 | December 29, 2008 7:40 PM | Report abuse

Leetee:

From the other thread... if Cabrera ends up being Phil Ortega, it'd take that. That would mean 10-12 wins and 180-200 innings per year for three years. His WHIPs were also in the 1.1-1.2 range, albeit during a historically weak offensive period in baseball.

#4

Posted by: db423 | December 29, 2008 7:42 PM | Report abuse

TGHP: "Cheap" would be relative for this Boras client; $22-23M/yr for 3-years versus $20M/yr for 4-5 years; Maybe a 2-yr at $25M per. The question for the Nationals would be - WHY?

It would force the team to dump at least two other outfielders, all of them much younger than Ramirez. Not a positive move the future, imo.

Posted by: BinM | December 29, 2008 7:45 PM | Report abuse

leetee, #4: Phil Ortega - Wow, there's a "blast from the past". I'd prefer a Dick Bosman type (a solid pitcher on some really crappy teams), but a great reference point.

Posted by: BinM | December 29, 2008 7:51 PM | Report abuse

Continuing the "old school" reference - If John Lannan ends up being the equivalent of Claude Osteen, is that a bad thing?

Posted by: BinM | December 29, 2008 7:54 PM | Report abuse

This is a GREAT point...

_______________________________________________________

I would've included the Lerner's rent strike as one of the top stories. While the Tex pursuit may have abated the "Lerners Are Cheep!!!1!!" cries, the refusal to pay rent on a stadium that the team was using and publicly praising was absolutely disgusting, unforgivable, and contributed heavily to the cheap image.

Posted by: jrm212k | December 29, 2008 7:39 PM

Posted by: TimDz | December 29, 2008 7:55 PM | Report abuse

Where are the positives?

Posted by: misschatter | December 29, 2008 8:01 PM | Report abuse

Yeah, in retrospect, it should have been a much bigger story than Acta, Guzman's re-birth, or the youngsters.

Posted by: BinM | December 29, 2008 8:01 PM | Report abuse

@BinM

As long as Lannan isn't the next Frank Kreutzer (8-18 lifetime) or Frank Bertaina (19-29), I can live with the comparisons.

Posted by: leetee1955 | December 29, 2008 8:11 PM | Report abuse

Has there been anything *official* about the Nats puruing Dunn? He can't slip away if we weren't even really trying to grab him.

Posted by: NatsNut | December 29, 2008 8:12 PM | Report abuse

missc: The positives (in an otherwise horrible 2008) - The stadium opened, Guzman got healthy & started hitting, and the young'uns started to show something.
The rest, just bad memories...

Posted by: BinM | December 29, 2008 8:14 PM | Report abuse

@NatsNut,

He's a former Reds player, isn't he?

Posted by: leetee1955 | December 29, 2008 8:14 PM | Report abuse

leetee: Oof - I was trying to "look on the bright side of life".

Posted by: BinM | December 29, 2008 8:15 PM | Report abuse

@leetee: Besides, Kreutzer was by-and-large a relief pitcher.

Posted by: BinM | December 29, 2008 8:22 PM | Report abuse

@NNut: I don't recall seeing anything released from the club, but it was assumed that when Acta & the FO said a "LH-power hitter" was an off-season target, that Dunn would be a probable choice.

Posted by: BinM | December 29, 2008 8:30 PM | Report abuse

For those of you who wanted the rent holdback as one of your top ten, you might want to place it just below the punchlist of incomplete, not started, or unacceptable items. Let's remember that the punchlist ran well into the thousands of items.

You want to write that rent check????

Posted by: Catcher50 | December 29, 2008 9:01 PM | Report abuse

@C50: Maybe if it had been listed as "the Battle on Half St." between the Lerners' & the City for completion of the stadium?

Posted by: BinM | December 29, 2008 9:14 PM | Report abuse

Either way, I had the opening of the stadium as #1 on my list.

Posted by: BinM | December 29, 2008 9:17 PM | Report abuse

jca

You are of course right that there are massive question marks about Hernandez's offense, and more over Gonzalez's. But this organization needs to start asking itself what it is trying to achieve.

If we are to succeed we need to ask if someone is part of the problem or part of the solution. What does Hudson bring to the table. I would argue, a marginal improvement at best. What does Hernandez bring, probably little more than good defense but, possibly a long term solution to an on going problem. Next year we will not qualify for the play-offs. Nor the year after and almost certainly not the year after that. So what is the point of handing spots to guys who are useful now, and only getting less useful.

If we play Guzman and Hudson next year we will be no closer our goal of competing in the year x, and will lost an opportunity to try out two very talented players. Sure we need to sign some veterans but why do it in positions where we have potential player, even if they are long shots.

Posted by: soundbloke | December 29, 2008 9:45 PM | Report abuse

Speaking of free agents, here's a couple of new and interesting ones:
http://tinyurl.com/8kcz8u

Posted by: CEvansJr | December 29, 2008 9:53 PM | Report abuse

OK, that link seems to have gone Patterson on me. How about this one:
NEW YORK -- Cuban pitcher Yadel Marti and outfielder Yasser Gomez have departed their Communist island homeland in a bid to launch Major League Baseball careers, ESPN reported on Monday on its website.
http://tinyurl.com/8v39a3

Posted by: CEvansJr | December 29, 2008 10:05 PM | Report abuse

N BID TO PLAY IN U.S.
2 top baseball players escape from Cuba


Agence France-Presse
First Posted 09:57:00 12/30/2008

Filed Under: Baseball

NEW YORK -- Cuban pitcher Yadel Marti and outfielder Yasser Gomez have departed their Communist island homeland in a bid to launch Major League Baseball careers, ESPN reported on Monday on its website.

Citing unnamed sources, the US sports telecaster reported that relatives and friends of the players in Cuba confirmed the duo had departed and were in an unknown location but attempting to reach the Dominican Republic.

Players who become available through such nations as the Dominican Republic are free agents and available to the highest bidder among the 30 North American clubs rather than having their rights assigned in a draft like US collegians.

Marti, 29, was the star pitcher in Cuba's runner-up showing at the 2006 World Baseball Classic, the first global event with Major League Baseball talent featuring players competing for their homelands.

Marti went 1-0 in the 2006 tournament with two saves and a 0.00 earned-run average while not allowing a run in 12 2.3 innings. The Cubans lost to Japan in the championship game while the US hosts could not even reach the semi-finals.

Gomez, 28, and Marti were teammates for Industriales of Havana but each dropped for the current national series over serious infractions by Cuban baseball officials.

ESPN reported that Marti and Gomez were banned from Cuban baseball after being caught with others trying to board a boat to escape Cuba.

Marti has won 67 games with a 3.23 earned-run average with Industriales while Gomez was the 1997 Cuban Rookie of the Year with a .331 career batting average for Industriales but did not play in the 2006 Classic or 2008 Olympic

Posted by: CEvansJr | December 29, 2008 10:06 PM | Report abuse

make that "IN BID ..."

Better get on this one, JimBow--I had to go to [AB] FRANCE to find this for you.

Posted by: CEvansJr | December 29, 2008 10:08 PM | Report abuse

cue the soundtrack: "[Send] Lawyers, Guns, and Money"

Posted by: CEvansJr | December 29, 2008 10:12 PM | Report abuse

I'm on the "Hudson would be a great signing" side of this debate. One argument hass been that Hudson would block Hernandez, but I don't think Hernandez is a lock to develop into a starting player and even if he does, he is unlikely to be better than Hudson. Hudson is actually a fairly complete player - hitting, fielding, throwing, and baserunning are all above average. He does not hit for above average power, but neither would Hernandez and neither do most middle infielders. He also has playoff experience and leadership skills. He is from North Carolina so he brings regional loyalties and he is purported to be one of Willie Harris' best friends which speaks well of him. (I also fall on the pro side of the Willie Harris debate).

BTW, Harris was second in voting for the Fielding Bible awards for left fielders and has excellent range factors for every position he plays except 3B.

It is harder to find accepted statistical measures on fielding and baserunning than it is for hitting. But Bill James Handbook is an excellent resource if you don't mind sorting through the rows and columns of data. I got my 2009 copy for Christmas and I recommend it if you like that sort of thing. It's a lot more reliable than the lazy opinions of some of the national baseball writers. The baseball writers are not always wrong, but they often give the impression that they don't know why they are right.

Posted by: natbisquit | December 29, 2008 10:12 PM | Report abuse

On evaluating defense, what you sometimes here is that you are better off picking a number of systems and making a meta judgment rather paying to much attention to one. Is that the Fielding Bible technique?

Soundbloke - your reasoning is sound, bloke, even if I balance things a little different than you. There could be worse things than seeing what AH has and having my SuperWillieBelli platoon as plan B. However, I'm closer to thinking Hudson could give us 3 very sound years at ages 31 - 33, leading off with good defense, and he could be spun his last year if we are not fighting for anything worthwhile by 2011. Dunn or another big bat is more important than Hudson, but Dunn and Hudson (and deals) could solve a lot of problems fast.

Posted by: jca-CrystalCity | December 29, 2008 10:54 PM | Report abuse

"The question for the Nationals would be - WHY?

It would force the team to dump at least two other outfielders, all of them much younger than Ramirez. Not a positive move the future, imo."

There is absolutely no downside to the Nationals signing Manny. Dump two outfielders? Take Kearns and Pena, PLEASE. The upside to Manny? (a) He instantly becomes the most entertaining National ever. He'll put butts in the seats. Who won't want to come and watch Manny managing Manny being Manny? (b) He instantly makes the Nationals a better team, RIGHT NOW. (c) He does nothing to prevent them from becoming an even better team in the future, because he'd only be here two or three years at most before making room for a youngster. So I have to say WHY NOT MANNY?

Posted by: TheGhostOfHatemasPast | December 29, 2008 10:58 PM | Report abuse

Certainly Dunn makes sense. Right now we have nothing in that position. Funny that talk of signing him dried up the second we were out of the Teix-Stakes. My inner pessimist is taking over again.

And playing good players, like Hudson, because you want a team to be respectable is definitely not a bad idea. I mean, if I'm wrong and we sign him, the worst case scenario is that we get a solid defensive lead-off hitter. Hardly a tragedy. I prefer the long-long-long term plan, but I'm often wrong.

Posted by: soundbloke | December 29, 2008 11:33 PM | Report abuse

Hatemas:

Well, one reason is that as soon as the Sox became non-competitive he'd fake injury and shut himself down for the season.

Which means we would get him for half of June...

Posted by: soundbloke | December 30, 2008 12:06 AM | Report abuse


*************
Who won't want to come and watch Manny managing Manny being Manny?
Posted by: TheGhostOfHatemasPast | December 29, 2008 10:58 PM

Posted by: CEvansJr | December 30, 2008 1:23 AM | Report abuse

>So I have to say WHY NOT MANNY?

I'll tell you why not - the Nats are more concerned about looking smart and making clever little moves than they are about winning right now. Look, if they signed two or three top-shelf FAs, and got up to .500 with a shot at the wildcard, they wouldn't be able to OWN the situation. In other words, they want to tell you that they know more than you (fans), and they're going all-out to prove it. They've gotten in over their heads, and signing Man-ny would be admitting that they haven't been a) drafting well b) making sound decisions with their money. And now they want to put up a stop sign because they've lost control of the situation. And they've definitely lost control, they just can't admit it. And the fans will suffer.

Posted by: Brue | December 30, 2008 7:26 AM | Report abuse

I say, Man-nay.

How do you spell Manny?

A-L-B-E-R-T B-E-L-L

Posted by: Section506 | December 30, 2008 7:38 AM | Report abuse

"You are of course right that there are massive question marks about Hernandez's offense, and more over Gonzalez's. But this organization needs to start asking itself what it is trying to achieve."

Another way to put this: there are massive question marks about Hernandez and Gonzalez's offensive abilities, jca, and right now is exactly the time those questions need to be answered. We can't afford to answer them two or three seasons down the line.

Posted by: Section506 | December 30, 2008 7:45 AM | Report abuse

I say, Man-nay.

How do you spell Manny?

A-L-B-E-R-T B-E-L-L

Posted by: Section506 | December 30, 2008 7:38 AM
**************************************

Heh. You can't even spell Albert Belle.

Posted by: nunof1 | December 30, 2008 8:02 AM | Report abuse

Leave off the last 'E' for savings!

Posted by: Section506 | December 30, 2008 8:56 AM | Report abuse

So wait a second Brue. Is it your contention that if we sign Manny we will have a winning season, a competitive season or a play-off season?

Because I go to the park to watch baseball, not a circus.

Posted by: soundbloke | December 30, 2008 9:00 AM | Report abuse

"Is it your contention that if we sign Manny we will have a winning season, a competitive season or a play-off season?

Because I go to the park to watch baseball, not a circus."

If we don't sign Manny, we will likely not have a winning season, a competitive season (what does that mean, anyway?) or a playoff season. But you never know. We might. Same deal if we do sign Manny. Who knows if we'll get a winning season, a competitive season or a playoff season? That depends on a lot of things besides one individual player. What we do know if we sign Manny is that we'd have a more talented and more entertaining 25-man roster, which should translate into better baseball. If it brings some circus along with it, who's to complain? I didn't see any Dodger fans complaining that the brand of baseball in their town went down when Manny brought a little circus into their laid-back LA fan lifestyle. Did you?

Posted by: nunof1 | December 30, 2008 9:23 AM | Report abuse

Firstly, a competitive season is one where you are still in contention for a play off birth in September.

Secondly, the Dogers had a roster that was one or two guys from a chance at the World Series. Manny knew he had a chance at the World Series. Our team is a long way from that. That is why you develop youth, and bring youngsters through, to build a foundation to get you to the point where one or two free agents gets you to the play-offs. What you are talking about is benching one of our two most promising players to make way for a huge contract that in three years will have won us exactly nothing.

Also, and I have spent a lot of time in Boston and married a Red Sox fan so I follow (but don't support) the team fairly closely, he is a disaster when he team falls out of contention. He forgot which leg he was faking an injury on. He has voluntarily shut himself down in three seasons in the last six years. How do you think he fits into this team?

While you may not have seen many Dodgers fans complain they had him for three months. Ask a few Sox fans about Manny being Manny.

Posted by: soundbloke | December 30, 2008 9:36 AM | Report abuse

I think Manny would just be a distraction. I might feel differently if someone can point out an example or two of a team that lost 100 games and was transformed into .500+ team by adding a high profile, aging hitter. I will grant you that Manny is one of the great hitters of all time, so chances are better with him. He's also one of the great distractions of all time when he's playing for team that appears out of it.

On another note, Alberto Gonzalez's Major League Equivalent's

AB: 500
H: 106
2B: 29
3B: 8
HR: 4
RBI: 62
BB: 28
BA: .213
OBA: .254
SLG: . 325

It's noble to hope that Gonzalez and Hernandez will hit at the MLB level. I hope like heck they do. The reality though is that the best the Nats would probably be looking at are batting averages of about .240 and OBAs of about .270. It's rare that a guy suddenly "finds it" at the big league level. There is almost always a pretty strong minor league track record. This is the same reason I'm really worried about the other hitting prospects.

Does anyone else wonder about this question? If the Nats have one of the better farm systems, why do they have so few of the top 90 prospects? The "average" team would have three since there are 30 teams, right? They would have one each in the top 30, middle 30, and bottom 30. In spring 2008 they had Marrero #27, Detwiler #51, and Balester #86. That puts them at barely average since all of those are toward the bottom of their respective ranges. I haven't seen the 2009 list, but I doubt the Nats will be in better shape. I'd love to be proven wrong or have someone tell me why this is faulty reasoning. I'm most concerned because we are all pinning our hopes on the "Plan" which is supposed to revolve around great drafts and player development.

#4

Posted by: db423 | December 30, 2008 9:43 AM | Report abuse

The Dodgers probably saw the best of Manny because he was on display for a future contract.

I don't think this team is ready to handle a guy like him. He needs to be in a place that's well more established and has a more solid clubhouse. Now, obviously I have no idea what the clubhouse was like but I do have the impression that from day one it was a scattered in its cohesiveness and leadership because of all the injuries and releases and trades.

Anyway, once we have a few core players who have been here more than a season, stay injury-free and have a solid young leader who will carry us through for many years (sob...Teixeira), THEN we can afford the entitled, prima donna, do-as-I-please veterans.

I don't want Manny Ramirez anywhere near this team right now.

Posted by: NatsNut | December 30, 2008 9:45 AM | Report abuse

I wonder about the disparity between our farm systems top ten rating and the lack of A quality prospects.

Zimmerman looks like the real deal, but no where in the system does it look like we have a 3-4 hitter or a 1-2 starter (unless Zimmerman gets better).

I also agree that Gonzalez is a real long shot. But the defense is so beautiful to watch. And don't forget that not two years ago both he and Hernandez were rated in the top five in their respective systems. I think you guys are probably right that they won't amount to much but the point is that we need to use the next two years to try out guys like this. Give them a shot, or give some other young kid a shot.

Posted by: soundbloke | December 30, 2008 9:53 AM | Report abuse

"I think Manny would just be a distraction."

A distraction from what? From what we had here last year? Lousy team, lousy crowds, nothing but bad press and sniping from even the most loyal fans? A distraction from all that sounds like a GOOD thing, if you ask me.

Posted by: nunof1 | December 30, 2008 9:55 AM | Report abuse

Leave off the last 'E' for savings!

Posted by: Section506 | December 30, 2008 8:56 AM
-------------------------------------------

A 800-MATTRESS reference applied to Albert Belle! Brilliant! Howard Stern used to run that commercial ad nauseum before moving to Sirius. Nice one, 506!

Posted by: joemktg1 | December 30, 2008 9:59 AM | Report abuse

I don't enjoy watching the Nats lose. However, I do enjoy the process of watching a franchise build itself. It will take all of the organization's energy to pull itself from the abyss that was the 102 loss season. Manny would be a distraction from that. Now if you have lost all hope that the team is going in the right direction then a Manny "sugar high" might be what you want. I just don't feel like that.

#4

Posted by: db423 | December 30, 2008 10:01 AM | Report abuse

"What you are talking about is benching one of our two most promising players to make way for a huge contract that in three years will have won us exactly nothing."

Which of our two most promising players would need to be benched if Manny was here? Manny in left, Milledge in center and Dukes in right. Willingham as #4 outfielder subbing for one of the three regular OFers and Nick at first would get a lot of ABs. Harris as #5 outfielder and infield super-sub. That's miles better than what we fielded last year and doesn't block anyone's development since Manny would be here only two or three years at most. Who are these "promising players" you're worried about anyway? Kearns, Pena, Langerhans, Casto? Come on...

Posted by: nunof1 | December 30, 2008 10:05 AM | Report abuse

You want to put Milledge is center and Manny in left? You'd need to play a fourth outfielder just to cover the gap between them. Hey, maybe we could put Harris in 'center-left'. Brilliant!

Posted by: soundbloke | December 30, 2008 10:15 AM | Report abuse

"You want to put Milledge is center and Manny in left? You'd need to play a fourth outfielder just to cover the gap between them."

You know, sometimes it makes sense to suffer a little bit defensively in order to have an offense with some pop (which the Nationals have rarely if ever had, have they?) You do what you need to do. The best defense in the league is worthless if your team can't score any runs.

Posted by: nunof1 | December 30, 2008 10:20 AM | Report abuse

"I wonder about the disparity between our farm systems top ten rating and the lack of A quality prospects.

Zimmerman looks like the real deal, but no where in the system does it look like we have a 3-4 hitter or a 1-2 starter (unless Zimmerman gets better)."

If an organization doesn't have a 3-4 hitter or a 1-2 starter at the major league level, it won't have them as prospects either. As others have pointed out, there are guys playing on the major league team for the Nationals who would still be prospects in most other organizations.

Posted by: nunof1 | December 30, 2008 10:24 AM | Report abuse

Manny brought the Dodgers to the playoffs, that's comparing apples to a team in viable contention in the easiest division in baseball.

There's an alternative to rolling the dice every year by acquiring formerly highly desired talent by trading away the chance at finding the next big thing (sounds eerily familiar to another Washington franchise...): you can have a deliberate, longterm plan.

You could commit yourself to suffering while you take the time to do the job right and create, from the ground up, a baseball team to last a dozen years as perennial champions. The Rays are such a great example, because they spent about five years doing precisely what you're advocating before realizing what a mistake it was and making a plan that is now paying off.

The Tex chase seems to have turned the clock back to 2006, why do we have to prove the plan again?

Posted by: Section506 | December 30, 2008 10:32 AM | Report abuse

I vote yes on O-Dog, no on Manny. We need 1, 2 and 4 hitters that play center, second and first. And we need top of the rotation starters. A poor defensive LF doesn't fit, even if his bat would be an interesting luxury item. That said, if he somehow falls to us for 1-2 year below-market deal, I'll accept it on the grounds that he might be worth something in July.

Posted by: BobLHead | December 30, 2008 10:34 AM | Report abuse

On the survey, I went with the park, the injuries, the losses, the young talent, and the Teixeira pursuit. I regret the Crow debacle but I'm banking on recouping that in June. And everything else is history and/or of negligible longterm impact.

Posted by: BobLHead | December 30, 2008 10:42 AM | Report abuse

"There's an alternative to rolling the dice every year by acquiring formerly highly desired talent by trading away the chance at finding the next big thing (sounds eerily familiar to another Washington franchise...): you can have a deliberate, longterm plan."

Who's talking about rolling the dice every year here, as you say? Getting Manny now would be taking advantage of a one-time opportunity to spice up the lineup, put butts in the seats and add some excitement to this moribund franchise while it continues to execute its long-term plan. This is not something that would be done every year in the hope of instant gratification a la the Redskins. Nothing would be "traded away" to get Manny, other than a pile of the Lerners' bucks. They could pay Manny's salary straight from the money they're collecting each year from MASN, and bump up ratings in the process. Really, what's wrong with that?

Posted by: nunof1 | December 30, 2008 10:42 AM | Report abuse

One thing worth contemplating - what does JimBo value? I think his track record shows that he looks for athletic guys who can play good defense. Obviously there have been exceptions when desperation has dictated - Dmitri Young for example. I bring this up only to say that I think there is zero chance the Nats sign Dunn or Ramirez. I think JimBo's #1 priority is to put a good defensive team on the field - hence his aborted effort at getting Taveras. It's also the reason we'll get Anderson Hernandez at 2B and Alberto Gonzalez somewhere on the roster.

I'm not saying I completely agree with this philosophy, although I do think defense tends to be undervalued and offense overvalued. I'm just saying that we shouldn't hold our breath for either Dunn or Manny.

#4

Posted by: db423 | December 30, 2008 10:51 AM | Report abuse

Manny is a type-A free agent, so something would be traded away.

Posted by: soundbloke | December 30, 2008 10:52 AM | Report abuse

Without question, the long list of injuries is the top story. Because if the team had remained 100% healthy ....

* Manny wouldn't have lost his halo
* The Nationals wouldn't have felt the need to go after Mark Teixiera
* The coaches wouldn't have gotten fired
* Aaron Crow would have been seen even more as the fault of the player
* The team wouldn't have lost 102 games
* Money missteps wouldn't be considered, as LoDuca, Estrada, et. al. would have had productive years because they weren't hurt

The talent would have still grown and the park would have still opened.

That leaves "finding a shortstop."

If the Nats would have stayed healthy, they would have "found a catcher," "found a backup infielder," "found a starting pitcher," "found a first baseman...."

You get the idea.

It's all about the injuries.

Posted by: rushfari | December 30, 2008 11:01 AM | Report abuse

"I think JimBo's #1 priority is to put a good defensive team on the field...I'm just saying that we shouldn't hold our breath for either Dunn or Manny."

Heading into the offseason, Kasten, Bowden and Acta all talked about adding power, preferably left-handed, to the lineup as a top priority. They haven't done that yet. If it's not Dunn or Manny, then it will need to be someone else, either as a FA or by trade.

Posted by: nunof1 | December 30, 2008 11:04 AM | Report abuse

It's just odd how the chase for Dunn seems to have cooled though, because he seems such an obvious pick up (no player at his position, left handed power bat needed, no compensatory draft pick).

Posted by: soundbloke | December 30, 2008 11:15 AM | Report abuse

"I think JimBo's #1 priority is to put a good defensive team on the field...I'm just saying that we shouldn't hold our breath for either Dunn or Manny."

"Heading into the offseason, Kasten, Bowden and Acta all talked about adding power, preferably left-handed, to the lineup as a top priority."

Agreed, but the two things aren't mutually exclusive, hence the pursuit of Tiexiera. I just think JimBo will have to swallow really hard to go into the season with Adam Dunn as his 1B or LF. It's not what he wants to do I'm guessing.

Posted by: db423 | December 30, 2008 11:19 AM | Report abuse

Clint's histrionics...a guess thats what you could call it

BiM...couple other 40 Man roster updates for you - Clippard was acquired by trade from NYY, Martis acquired by trade from SF, Mock & Chico trade from ARI - Rivera & Hanrahan were minor league free agent signings - All the other drafted guys were draft picks, though O'Connor was released and immediately resigned last year

Posted by: LosDoceOcho | December 30, 2008 11:28 AM | Report abuse

I don't blame him really. With Dunn, Willigham, Guzman and Milledge, as a center fielder, we have a lot of defensive question marks. I understand we need to make some sacrifices to improve our offense but that team looks pretty bad on defense.

How do you fix it though? Without more signings or trying to convince a team to take Pena and the Amazingly Interchangable Mediocre twins (Willingham/Kearns) off our hands for one decent center/shortstop fielder. Which is a pipe dream.

Posted by: soundbloke | December 30, 2008 11:34 AM | Report abuse

"Heading into the off season, Kasten, Bowden and Acta all talked about adding power, preferably left-handed, to the lineup as a top priority."

Hey, I wonder if Ryan Church is available.

Kidding... kidding.. just kidding.

#4

Posted by: db423 | December 30, 2008 11:49 AM | Report abuse

I'd like to throw in a comment about the #102 and the new ballpark combined. I've had season tickets since '05, and while RFK was a dump, it was our dump. I really didn't enjoy going to the new park that much. It's hard to put my finger on it, and I'm sure that "oh, we're gonna lose" had a lot to do with it, but it's just not that enjoyable. My biggest fear for the franchise is that they turn into the Braves - good, but a fan base that's only there to see Clint, hear that godawful loud music, and play video games(!). Most of our season ticket group has reached the same conclusion, ("I'm just not having any fun there anymore.")

I don't know how to fix it. I'm sure winning would be nice. Bouncy stands? Maybe. Just do SOMETHING, ANYTHING to get the crowd to give a damn about the game rather than "which food-smeared 4-year-old is the fan of the game today?"

And really, I think we're out of ways to fake Teddy losing the race. Just let that gag die. Get someone in a Cheney outfit to start tackling people, or have a fight between a Cheney and a Nixon.

Posted by: Section406 | December 30, 2008 11:53 AM | Report abuse

>I just think JimBo will have to swallow really hard to go into the season with Adam Dunn as his 1B or LF. It's not what he wants to do I'm guessing.<

Apparently, Dunn wants to play with a winner, or somebody that has an immediate chance. Hence the interest from the Dodgers. People are on here talking like they could pick him up as an afterthought. He probably already told the Nats to go away when he figured out that he could go to an organization that actually had a plan. If they really wanted him, they wouldn't have let him sit around this long anyway, because, according to them, 'Manny's not a good fit'. So, if Man-ny's the only impediment to a deal, then wtf are they doing sitting on their hands? They're not gonna sign any of these guys, more than likely, because Stan said it himself - 'Tex was a unique player'. I think we all know what that's code for. SOL on the rest of the big FAs. And the circle of people sitting around talking about defense and the plan, and moving the players around that we already have, will just get smaller and smaller when they can't score and are out of it by Memorial day.

Btw, anybody think that Tampa Bay is going to last a decade with the young talent? They'll start selling people off like the Marlins do. May not be this year, but four or five years from now they'll probably be unrecognizable.

Posted by: Brue | December 30, 2008 12:05 PM | Report abuse

406 - do you remember the video to "When Two Tribes Go to War"? one of those 80s Brit bands did it. The video had Reagan and Chernenko wrestling.

Posted by: jca-CrystalCity | December 30, 2008 12:13 PM | Report abuse

So, who other than Manny, Dunn, and Hudson should we be thinking about?

Would anyone want to roll the dice on Mulder or another reclamation project? Penny looks like he is signing with the Red Sox, as is Josh Bard. Do we bring in a veteran catcher to play 40% of the games to keep Flores fresh? Is Willingham plan B if Johnson can't go? Is there another left handed power bat you'd pursue if both Dunn and Ibanez are signed elsewhere?

Posted by: jca-CrystalCity | December 30, 2008 12:19 PM | Report abuse

Frankie Goes to Hollywood!

Posted by: mjhoya12 | December 30, 2008 12:25 PM | Report abuse

#4, I found myself pondering the Ryan Church question today as well, in view of the fact that the Mets have evidently been contemplating taking Andruw Jones off the Dodgers' hands in exchange for Luis Castillo. With Beltran ensconced in center, Jones apparently would play right, bumping Church to the bench. Which led me to think, would we possibly consider dealing Kearns for Church and Castillo?

Look, I know it's really, really hard to get excited over something like that, but if you squint sideways at it long enough it almost makes sense.

Posted by: BobLHead | December 30, 2008 12:27 PM | Report abuse

"Btw, anybody think that Tampa Bay is going to last a decade with the young talent? They'll start selling people off like the Marlins do. May not be this year, but four or five years from now they'll probably be unrecognizable."

As the Moroccans say, "shnoo?" (coupled with the Maghrabi lilt it is the world's greatest interrogative). What? What else do you think a Plan is? It's not keep the same group of 25 men for ten years. That's why people say "core" group of players and not "25-man roster."

You keep the few that are irreplaceable and move the rest for MORE PROSPECTS. The Marlins are unique, so I'm ignoring the part where you say "just like the Marlins" so that there's a better argument to be had.

Also, Dunn should want to play for a contending team, he doesn't have too many years left in his prime. Only slugging ability, and that diminishes to uselessness faster than other abilities.

Posted by: Section506 | December 30, 2008 12:35 PM | Report abuse

"the Mets have evidently been contemplating taking Andruw Jones off the Dodgers' hands in exchange for Luis Castillo."

This would be a contender for worst trades of the decade, the prospect delights me.

Posted by: Section506 | December 30, 2008 12:35 PM | Report abuse

The 102 losses ranks #10 with me, injuries #1. I really don't care to look backwards anymore. Let us focus on 09 and just forget that crazy 08 ever happened. Unlike many, I like this team and the way they choose to build it. Paying mediocre sums (by todays standards, not mine) for stopgap players and investing higher dollars in longterm developement. I commend ownership for not panicing in order to satisfy the fans short term goals. It will prove the wiser philosophy in the long run. Build it right and they WILL come.

Posted by: cokedispatch | December 30, 2008 12:36 PM | Report abuse

Kearns for Church AND Castillo? Heck, I'd trade Kearns for Church and a bag of broken bats.

The kicker here though is that JimBo likes Kearns a lot more than Church. It would never happen.

#4

Posted by: db423 | December 30, 2008 12:37 PM | Report abuse

"As the Moroccans say, "shnoo?" (coupled with the Maghrabi lilt it is the world's greatest interrogative)."

Outstanding, 506. Outstanding.

#4

Posted by: db423 | December 30, 2008 12:46 PM | Report abuse

"Which led me to think, would we possibly consider dealing Kearns for Church and Castillo?"

That's not the right question. Who in their right mind would consider TAKING Kearns for Church and Castillo? Minaya's an idiot and all, but still.

Posted by: nunof1 | December 30, 2008 12:51 PM | Report abuse

Aw c'mon, #4, I was just about to bring back Brian Schneider in that deal as well!

Posted by: BobLHead | December 30, 2008 12:51 PM | Report abuse

Wait, how could that happen if Castillo is the one who would be traded for Jones?

-----

Which led me to think, would we possibly consider dealing Kearns for Church and Castillo?

Posted by: JohninMpls | December 30, 2008 1:01 PM | Report abuse

"the Mets have evidently been contemplating taking Andruw Jones off the Dodgers' hands in exchange for Luis Castillo."

This would be a contender for worst trades of the decade, the prospect delights me.

Posted by: Section506 | December 30, 2008 12:35 PM
-------------------------------------------

Borught to you by none other than Omar Minaya.

Posted by: BinM | December 30, 2008 1:07 PM | Report abuse

Who says slugging ability diminishes faster than other talents? On the face of it it's completely improbably, you see tons of guys still hitting for power in their late 30s, but what does diminish is defensive ability. Range and speed would seem to decline first, then strength. Reaction time would play a part too, but most research I've seen shows no discernable decrease in reaction time for adults under 50 and only moderate decline before 65+ baring some medical cause.

Thus, signing Dunn to a 3 year deal to play 1B if NJ is hurt or LF if not makes perfect sense - IF you want to go that way. All he cost is money (no draft picks which nixes O.Hudson IMO).

Personally I would rather they try to put together a trade for a young 1Bman like KC's Kila Ka'aihue, who is only 24 and has tons of potential (the '09 version of Lastings Milledge?). Do we have the pieces to make a trade like that or for a similair player elsewhere?

Posted by: estuartj | December 30, 2008 1:10 PM | Report abuse

One day Minaya is going to admit that his dog whispers baseball moves into his ear.

Posted by: Section506 | December 30, 2008 1:10 PM | Report abuse

One day Minaya is going to admit that his dog whispers baseball moves into his ear.

Posted by: Section506 | December 30, 2008 1:10 PM
-------------------------------------------

... and that he pays attention to them.

Posted by: BinM | December 30, 2008 1:15 PM | Report abuse

"Who says slugging ability diminishes faster than other talents?"

I know, estuartj, I just can't post "though I'm not sure of this conventional wisdom and would very much like to see some statistics to prove it" after every single post. I'm willing to buy in that it decreases faster than hitting for average, though, which is why Tex always made more sense than Dunn.

Kansas City is also trying a rebuilding program, which makes it hard to trade with them for us. But with all the generally fanciful talk about moving Lastings Milledge, KC is actually a place he would fit nicely.

Posted by: Section506 | December 30, 2008 1:15 PM | Report abuse

I would very much like to take a ride on the way back machine and swap Kearns for Church in the Milledge trade.

Church never got a decent shot here, maybe he didn't deserve one based on how the Mets feel about him too, but the love affair the FO seems to have with Kearns and the hatred they have for Church makes it look more like a high school dating show than a major league baseball team.

Posted by: estuartj | December 30, 2008 1:17 PM | Report abuse

Somewhere way back on this thread someone was saying our farm doesn't have any 3-4 hitters and no 1-2 pitchers.

They may not pan out at the major league level, but Burgess and Marrero sure seem to fit that bill. Not sure about the pitchers, but J-Zim, McGeary, Smoker and maybe Willems and Detwiler (once his mechanics are worked out) could all be top end starters when they are done developing, all but J-Zim and Detwiler are still VERY young!

Posted by: estuartj | December 30, 2008 1:22 PM | Report abuse

I post this as a toy for people to play with in their spare time. It's web site that allows you to calculate - based on a player's stats from the year before - how they would have performed on any other team in baseball. You can move a player from team to team in the big leagues or from level to level in the minors to the majors. I found it kind of interesting when extrapolating how some of the prospects might do as they move up.

http://www.minorleaguesplits.com/mlecalc.html

#4

Posted by: db423 | December 30, 2008 1:27 PM | Report abuse

Uh-oh, and I have work to do this afternoon ....

Posted by: BobLHead | December 30, 2008 1:38 PM | Report abuse

At least it's #4's tax dollars I'm wasting thanks to him.

Posted by: Section506 | December 30, 2008 1:41 PM | Report abuse

I seem to recall that the main gripe against Church (by FRobby at least)was his durability.

Posted by: BinM | December 30, 2008 1:43 PM | Report abuse

estuartj

I was doubting the number of A+ prospects. Here was my reasoning but I'd love to have it shot down as I'm a great believer in the youth approach

There is a lot of pitching lying around down on the farm but I think we're being optimistic if we think anyone except Zimmerman or Detweiler even have a shot at developing into a front line starter. I'm no expert but expectations of these guys have been a lot more mooted of late. A lot has been made of our pitching depth within the organization but no one outside it seems to put our pitchers in their 'top prospects list'. Nat's Farm Authority had a top 100 list recently without a single Nat on it. It will be interesting to see what baseball America says, or if an actual expert like Brian could weigh in but, I get the distinct feeling that the farm has not progressed as we would have like this year.

As for Burgess, he strikes out a lot. Maybe he get's better, maybe he doesn't but that is a bad sign.

Posted by: soundbloke | December 30, 2008 1:44 PM | Report abuse

Also estuartj

Kila Ka'aihue would be fantastic. I'd be scared to see what we'd have to give up to get him though.

Posted by: soundbloke | December 30, 2008 1:48 PM | Report abuse

I would buy a jersey that said "Ka'aihue" on it.

Posted by: Section506 | December 30, 2008 2:03 PM | Report abuse

couldn't give 102 number 1 because they were suppposed to awful maybe not quite that awful but the growth i saw gave that the number one nod in my book last year's struggle was not time wasted dukes, flores, milledge, lannan, ballester, chico,rivera zim, willingham, olsen, hernandez, gonzalez, all have given me hope put hill in there if he's ever healthy and hopefully o'connor will be heard from this year and maybe another young arm we've drafted, i think things are going the in the right direction that being said we still need an ace and a stud power guy, two cornerstones that get people in the stands, soriano's presence alone accounted 5000 a game, not trading him when you knew you weren't going to pony up and give him anything close to legitimate offer still burns the organization still needs to atone for this crossing of the fan

Posted by: bford1kb | December 30, 2008 2:03 PM | Report abuse

estuartj-That's the kind of move I like; in fact I've mentioned Kila K a couple of times on this forum. (no responses)And I believe he could be had without giving up the farm. Kila K wasn't even on KC's top thirty list last year.(BA) KC has Jacobs, Butler, although the latter is more DH material. Power hitter, lefty, good OBA-what's not to like. Not sure about his defense, however.
Jeeves

Posted by: jcampbell1 | December 30, 2008 2:05 PM | Report abuse

bford

That is a point that we all tend to overlook. In these years it's not our record that matters, it's how many pieces of the final puzzle we put into place. You just cheered me up.

And Jeeves, his defense can't be worse than Dunn's, and I remember you mentioning him. Should have showed support.

Posted by: soundbloke | December 30, 2008 2:09 PM | Report abuse

eleven lines of gibberish I didn't bother to read

Posted by: bford1kb | December 30, 2008 2:03 PM

-------------------------------------------

Dude, buy some punctuation. Then buy some capital letters to put at the beginning of whatever you choose to call a sentence. Okay?

Posted by: nunof1 | December 30, 2008 2:12 PM | Report abuse

forgot hanrahan is up there too

Posted by: bford1kb | December 30, 2008 2:16 PM | Report abuse

OK, my apologies if you're sick of it: Kila's MLE based off his AAA stats from last year and extrapolated to 552 PAs.

AB: 480
R: 79
H: 124
2B: 13
3B: 0
HR: 33
RBI: 62
BA: .258
OBA: .355
SLG: .490
BB: 72
K: 112

He has a very abnormal number of RBIs for how many HRs he hit. It is a limited sample though - just 114 ABs. My guess from looking at his stats is that he is not very mobile - just 13 doubles and no triples.

#4

Posted by: db423 | December 30, 2008 2:26 PM | Report abuse

The only problem with this converter is it doesn't take into account age. How humans develop from 18 - 24 is highly significant in how players develop.

Posted by: Section506 | December 30, 2008 2:39 PM | Report abuse

What the converter is doing is converting those stats into MLB stats. In other words if Kila had played in the big leagues last year, the stats above are an approximation of what he would have done. If you run Wieters stats through, he would have hit .297 for the Orioles last year.

In Kila's case since it's only 114 ABs worth of data, it may be about right as a guess for this coming year. Kila probably will improve a little and his numbers last year probably would have declined over more ABs.

I've been looking at some guys like Utley, Pedroia and you're right that as a strict predictor for players in their early 20's, it usually undervalues what they'll eventually do - not by much though. If a guy's going to be .300 hitter in the big leagues, he hits. 300 or better in the high minors. He also generally destroys class A pitching - .330+.

#4

Posted by: db423 | December 30, 2008 3:00 PM | Report abuse

I really don't get why so many people get so hung up on Dunn's strikeouts. He gets hits, he gets walks, and he hits the ball hard. He also takes a lot of pitches. Well, in there, you're going to strike out, too. The only time a strikeout is *really* bad is if any kind of contact will score you a run (runner on 3b with 0 or 1 outs). And really, how often are there nats in that position anyway?

He has a high OBP, a high SLG, hits left-handed, and is available for NOTHING more than signing a check. No reimbursements to anyone. OK, he's not part of The World Champion 2012 nats. Neither is Dmitri Young nor Nick Johnson. Give him a 4-year deal with a 2-year walk option so he can go somewhere else if you need to, but jeez, go get him. Given the lack of power and production, having him in the lineup sure makes things better. Just don't put him in the OF -- everyone else is right -- our OF is bad enough.

Posted by: Section406 | December 30, 2008 3:08 PM | Report abuse

For all we know, the Nationals' FO may be talking to Dunn's agent. Recent reports currently have him making nice with the LAD or Cubs.

Posted by: BinM | December 30, 2008 3:18 PM | Report abuse

I have not commented on Kila before mostly because I did not see a low budget building team trading him for any veteran. You would be talking about a prospect for prospect(s) swap. Perhaps KC has blocked him with Jacobs, perhaps they figure they'll start Kila at AAA and, if he kicks the door in, flip Jacobs in June, but I think KC is in the young talent accumulation mode, not the spin youngsters for vets mode.

I think Kila was on most of the minor league all-star teams (BA had as DH on its first team all-minors all-stars), but Jim Callis did not have him in his AL top 10 prospects. He's slipped behind Eric Hosmer, too, so maybe he does end up getting moved. But it would cost young'ns, not vets, so I don't see us on the receiving end.

By the way, Callis's AL top 10: Price, Wieters, 3 more pitchers (Anderson and Cahill for the As, Feliz for the Rangers), T. Beckham, Hosmer, Lars Anderson, Travis Snider, Moustakas. 3 Rays, 2 Royals, 2 As.
http://www.baseballamerica.com/today/prospects/ask-ba/2008/267360.html

If a Nick to As deal gets done, I would go for other pitchers like their middle relief (Casilla) or perhaps the bottom of their very good rotation (Eveland). Without a Dunn signing, that would open 1st for Willingham and LF for Milledge.

Posted by: jca-CrystalCity | December 30, 2008 3:23 PM | Report abuse

And the reason people are hung up on his strikeouts is Chaos theory, in reverse. The breeze from one of Dunn's strikeouts alters wind & weather patterns in Asia.

Posted by: BinM | December 30, 2008 3:24 PM | Report abuse

2 Rays (Price and T. Beckham), 2 As, 2 Royals (Hosmer and Mous).

Posted by: jca-CrystalCity | December 30, 2008 3:27 PM | Report abuse

Well, Dunn's homers also alter traffic patterns on the basepaths. Just sayin'.

Posted by: Section406 | December 30, 2008 3:28 PM | Report abuse

If a guy's on 2nd, a base hit drives him in, where as a walk does nothing. There in lies the problem with Dunn. Only 23 doubles last year (to go with his .236 avg) and he's never had more than 106 rbi in his career despite 5 straight years of 40 hr. His slugging dropped from .528 to .472 once he left Cincy. His homers per at bat dropped from 1 every 11.7 to 1 every 18 ab's in Arizona. I don't think he's worth getting into a bidding war with LA or the Cubbies. I think trading for a young 1B is the way to go.

Posted by: sec307 | December 30, 2008 3:35 PM | Report abuse

...like Adrian Gonzales or Prince Fielder. They're numbers are similar to Dunn's and they both should get better while Dunn should get worse.

Posted by: sec307 | December 30, 2008 3:45 PM | Report abuse

307, there's also the assumption they can actually GET a guy on 2nd. I'm just sayin...

Posted by: NatsNut | December 30, 2008 3:47 PM | Report abuse

"shiny new park" is no. 1 because 2008 will forever be known as the year baseball finally returned PERMANENTLY to our nation's capital...

Posted by: andreekless | December 30, 2008 3:51 PM | Report abuse

NatsNut, perhaps you haven't heard of the rule change that allows the double walk. If any Washington National has the plate discipline to not a) swing at the first pitch and b) accrue four balls in a single plate appearance, then they are immediately allowed to go to second.

There's no contingency for an occasion when there would already be men on base.

Posted by: Section506 | December 30, 2008 3:52 PM | Report abuse

The big attraction with Dunn is that sitting at our desks we all know what is available and at what cost in the free agent market. We don't know who Bowden can get in a trade or what it would cost us. Would I get Kila for a corner outfielder (especially Willigham or Kearns), well of course. Would I go for Adrian Gonzalez, who is much better, for a package that involves Zimmerman (for example). Hmm... er... probably not. It's harder to gauge if a trade is better because we have no idea what that trade is.

Posted by: soundbloke | December 30, 2008 3:54 PM | Report abuse

506,
ouch. good one.

Posted by: NatsNut | December 30, 2008 3:57 PM | Report abuse

On the other hand, soundbloke, I am 100% behind the trade of Ryan Langerhans for Albert Pujols!

Posted by: Section506 | December 30, 2008 4:17 PM | Report abuse

Nah, Pujols has too many defensive flaws. I mean, he's okay, but he's no Casto.

Posted by: soundbloke | December 30, 2008 4:19 PM | Report abuse

soundbloke's amusing come back spurs a real question:

What is a stat that measures number of runs a player adds to his team by balancing runs saved on defense with runs created on offense?

Posted by: Section506 | December 30, 2008 4:25 PM | Report abuse

Fielding Runs
Fielding Runs is a common term for any statistical treatment of fielding that converts a fielder's performance to runs. Total Baseball uses the most common approach and most easily understood version. Their approach involves weighting the number of putouts, assists, and double plays made by each fielder, and comparing those totals to positional norms of other fielders to arrive at a figure above or below average. Each extra out made, or hit allowed, is worth X runs which leads to the FR figure. Career figures are considered better indicators than individual seasons as normalization is required for better overall averaging of each fielder's statistical performance.

More defensive stats here: http://www.baseball-almanac.com/stats3.shtml

Posted by: sec307 | December 30, 2008 4:32 PM | Report abuse

Thanks 307!

Posted by: Section506 | December 30, 2008 4:36 PM | Report abuse

307 - well, Dunn's OBP went up .044 after the trade, his Runs Created per Game went up, and, despite the drop in HRs, his OPS+ only went down from 130 to 127. Still very good. He walked a lot more, and he hit for .010 higher in average (and closer to his career norm). (per baseball-reeference)

His away stats for 2008 were better than his home stats. HR/AB were nerarly identical (1/12.89 away, 1/12.95 home).

Home: .228 / .373 / .493, 21 HR in 272 ABs
Away: .245 / .399 / .535, 19 HR in 245 ABs
(per ESPN)

As for the "a hit drives in a guy from 2d when a walk does not" - true enough. But OBP has a better correlation with runs than slugging or batting average. The game is about runs, and you can't score if you don't get on base.

Posted by: jca-CrystalCity | December 30, 2008 4:41 PM | Report abuse

I've long wondered this, 506.

I'm assuming it takes position into account, whatever it is.

-----

What is a stat that measures number of runs a player adds to his team by balancing runs saved on defense with runs created on offense?

Posted by: JohninMpls | December 30, 2008 4:42 PM | Report abuse

I may have some more time at home soon and, if so, I will be spending a good deal of time figuring out whether offense or defense IS more important on the diamond. Or finding someone who already has.

Posted by: Section506 | December 30, 2008 4:44 PM | Report abuse

I'm glad you answered that 307, because beyond shuffling my feet and shrugging, I had nothing.

Posted by: soundbloke | December 30, 2008 4:47 PM | Report abuse

Adam Dunn - 349
MAN-NY - 350
Tex - 371

what these numbers represent, are the amount of Doubles + HRs each of the above hit over the past 5 seasons.

I don't think we have a player outside of POSSIBLY Dukes or Zimmerman that can even get CLOSE to that level of power production.

Zimmerman has 148 over 3 seasons. He's likely the highest of any player currently on the Nats Roster.

by comparison over 3 seasons(instead of the 5 i showed above)

Zimmerman - 148
Dunn - 194
Tex - 215
Manny - 188

take from it what you will. it's just something I did on a whim.

Posted by: MrMadison | December 30, 2008 4:56 PM | Report abuse

One more on Dunn:
http://www.hardballtimes.com/main/shysterball/article/sources-say/

Suggests the story about LA calling Dunn is a hoax perpetrated by a GM whose faanbase is a bit restless and wants to bring in Dunn. I wonder who that could be?

Posted by: jca-CrystalCity | December 30, 2008 4:56 PM | Report abuse

jca - that article is suggesting that someone who wants to bring in MANNY is trying to drive a wedge further between Manny and the Dodgers.

----------------
The only situation I can see such a leak making sense is if Dunn was the kind of guy your fanbase is clamoring for and would be upset if you didn't land. Hey, I like Adam Dunn more than a lot of people, but he ain't one of those guys.

Here's an idea: Stark's anonymous source is fibbing about being interested in Dunn. Maybe he's really interested in Manny Ramirez, and by leaking the idea that Colletti is talking to Dunn, he's attempting to poison whatever is left of the Manny-Colletti relationship, thus increasing his team's chance at landing Manny.
----------------

Posted by: MrMadison | December 30, 2008 5:05 PM | Report abuse

MrM: Now why would an honest, upstanding citizen like Billy Beane do something like that?

Posted by: BinM | December 30, 2008 5:21 PM | Report abuse

So would I. David Letterman is wearing his Nats tee and Ka'aihue rally shorts in hopes that a deal will be done:

http://masnsports.com/2008/12/david-letterman-nationals-fan.html

---

I would buy a jersey that said "Ka'aihue" on it.

Posted by: natsfan1a1 | December 30, 2008 5:30 PM | Report abuse

Mr. Madison - thanks. Your read was better than mine.

As for our other player we've commented on to exhaustion, there is a nice article on O-Dog projecting his value (pegging him at roughly worth the same as Furcal) and comment cautioning about signing him (bad home road splits on offense, steady decline in defense since his peak in Toronto). Both are nice analyses. I/M/O, O-Dog makes the most sense if we can get him on short money (<$10m/yr, < or = 3 years) after we sign Dunn (and not without him), but I could be convinced that juggling SuperWillieBelli with AH might be sensible if the price on O-Dog is too high.

http://www.fangraphs.com/blogs/index.php/whither-orlando-hudson

Posted by: jca-CrystalCity | December 30, 2008 5:35 PM | Report abuse

I hate myself for even thinking this, let alone putting the thought to blog... (sigh)...
What about Barry Bonds on a 1-yr deal? LH power, You betcha'; OBP/OPS/OPS+, Yousa. Offer him a "make-good" contract with performance bonuses (if you can still hit, you're good; bonuses based on games played). Wouldn't block anyone in the minors (1-yr deal), solves the LH-power/#4-hitter issue; granted, he'd need a defensive replacement in the 6th-8th inning of any game he starts (Milledge), but could DH in the few inter-league contests we play in AL stadia.
I know this got proposed last year, but he was a pariah in 2008, with legal & PED issues.

Posted by: BinM | December 30, 2008 7:34 PM | Report abuse

>As for Burgess, he strikes out a lot. Maybe he get's better, maybe he doesn't but that is a bad sign.

Sometimes that happens when you start opening up your swing, under the recommendation of coaches, in order to expand your power. You're looking to pull a little more. He's got to be good for 15-20 homers right off the bat when he gets to the bigs. Otherwise, he goes down a level because he may or may not have the bat control to compensate for a relative lack of power. But he is a lefty, and there is a massive shortage of them.

Posted by: Brue | December 30, 2008 7:35 PM | Report abuse

Brue: That's true - sometimes it's also the metal/wood bat change. The metal bats can encourage a late, uppercut swing due to the weight differential; it can take a year or two to break that ingrained habit.

Posted by: BinM | December 30, 2008 7:47 PM | Report abuse

Exactly - that's why they have to concentrate on pulling the ball, in order to get the barrel out in front, because as thin as the handles are these days, if you hit it on the trademark, or even a couple inches above it, you're screwed. It takes awhile.

Posted by: Brue | December 30, 2008 7:52 PM | Report abuse

db, I'm a little confused about your Kila K stats. I (baseball america) has him with a BA of 315 in 401 AB. (114AB in AAA and 287AB in AA. He has 37 HR's and 100 RBI's Also 104 BB's and 67 SO's. Quite impressive if my information is correct.
I reiterate-37 HR's and 100 RBI's in only 400 AB's.
Soundbloke-Zimmermann and others for Gonzalez is an interesting concept but, like you I'm not sure I'd want to do it. I suppose it would depend on the others. Now Marrero, Burgess, Maxwell, and Martiz...h'mmm.
Jeeves

Posted by: jcampbell1 | December 30, 2008 7:53 PM | Report abuse

Jeeves:

I used only his AAA at bats and then quadrupled everything to give him 552 PAs. I did that in order to give us a read on what a full season would look like. I couldn't use the combined AA/AAA stats because the calculator isn't set up like that. My way of doing things still gave him the equivalent of 44 HRs in 456 ABs which is about the same rate that he actually had for his totals at AA/AAA. I think in my original post that I referenced that. If I caused confusion, sorry.

Sorry BinM. Bonds would be lower on my list than Manny.

#4

Posted by: db423 | December 30, 2008 8:11 PM | Report abuse

I was for throwing Bonds out there last year, but after all this time off, his age, the wear and tear etc. (especially the etc.) on his body, I don't think he'd be in any shape to play even the limited number of innings they'd use him for.

Posted by: CEvansJr | December 30, 2008 8:36 PM | Report abuse

The things the Nationals' are "rich" in (relatively speaking) right now, are catching & pitching prospects, and surplus ML-ready outfielders. If they want to take a step-up against a very competitive NL East, maybe trades are the way to go for 2009.
With clear holes at a LH-power slot (#4-5) and leadoff in the lineup, a consistant presence at 1B needed, defensive strength up the middle (C, SS, 2B, CF) under review, and a gap at the top for SP as percieved needs, there are a lot of gaps to fill.
The minors should bring some answers, either short-term (J.Zimm, Detwiler, VanAllen, others?) in 2009, mid-term (Maxwell, Davis, Desmond, Rhinehart, Marrero, Willems, Stouffer, others?) in 2010-2011, or long-term in 2011 & beyond, with a couple of suprises along the way.

But as the Nationals' enter year four of their plan in 2009, they need to consider acquiring some quality players to fill short-term needs & continue to build fanbase & goodwill.

The point to this long-winded missive being, if short-term help can be acquired for "futures" without gutting the farm system, GO FOR IT!

Posted by: BinM | December 30, 2008 8:36 PM | Report abuse

@#4, CE: Just tossing him out there (I've already donned the hair shirt & begun flogging myself for thinking it).

Posted by: BinM | December 30, 2008 8:39 PM | Report abuse

@#4: Just remember, as good a hitter as he can be, Manny is RH (the Nationals are LOUSY with RH-hitters right now).

Posted by: BinM | December 30, 2008 8:44 PM | Report abuse

I'm with you BinM. My comparative comment should interpreted like this: I like brussels sprouts even less than broccoli.

#4

Posted by: db423 | December 30, 2008 9:05 PM | Report abuse

Tossing in a link to one of Chico's old posts about the near season end press conference at the ESPN Zone where Bowden and Rizzo took questions. It was at this time that Bowden telegraphed his expectation that Jordan Zimmermann would be int he 2009 rotation and that the team would look at Dukes in CF and Milledge in LF.
http://tinyurl.com/9gb4uq

If Chico's right, then we are looking at Lannan, Olsen, Balester, Cabrera, and Zimmermann as the early leaders on the "guess the rotation" contest. Not that Bergmann, Martis, and others could not steal a slot if someone bombs, but they seem behind. I suppose they might look for another cheap starter to avoid conceding a slot to an untried guy and to fiddle with JZ's arbitration start date, but, barring a big deal, that seems how things set up.

As for Dukes in CF, he played 79 games there in AA in 2005 and, in 2007, TB played him mostly in CF (332 innings). I guess the theory for the switch is that while both have the tools to play center, Dukes has performed better defensively so should be given the shot to play the more important defensive position. As long as Kearns is playing RF, there is an adequate arm out there, too.

Posted by: jca-CrystalCity | December 30, 2008 9:19 PM | Report abuse

@#4: As vegetables, each has their place; as "plug-ins" for the Nationals, which offer smells / tastes better - Bonds (LH on a 1-yr, $8-20M+), or Ramirez (3-yr, $60-75M)?
I'll stop short of bringing Dunn & / or Abreau into the discussion just yet.

Posted by: BinM | December 30, 2008 9:23 PM | Report abuse

@jca: Regarding current SP, that assessment passes the smell test, but I'd probably rate them as Olsen, Cabrera, Lannan, Balester (L-R-L-R stagger), then either Hill or Bergmann as a #5, with J.Zimm as a May/June callup.

On the OF, the post/link was prior to the FLA trade; that clouded the OF somewhat, but a Willingham/Milledge/Dukes/Kearns free-for-all in Viera, with Maxwell, Davis & Bernadina outside the ropes should clear that up.

Posted by: BinM | December 30, 2008 9:40 PM | Report abuse

BinM:

Here's the thing. You have a clubhouse trying to build an identity - hopefully one which includes doing things the right way. Setting aside the fact that both Bonds and Ramirez work tirelessly at their craft of hitting, I'm not sure that the rest of the package they bring would be that great an influence. One is a PED user. The other is notoriously disrespectful to managers. Either would immediately become the most credible player in "the room" and would consequently have huge influence on the tone. Acta doesn't need either in his attempt to build a good atmosphere.

I've always liked green beans and peas anyway.

#4

Posted by: db423 | December 30, 2008 10:27 PM | Report abuse

Not to mention that the Nats clubhouse (literal) was designed as the anti-Bonds locale.

Posted by: Section506 | December 30, 2008 11:09 PM | Report abuse

I am a Plan Defender and a Plan Rationalizer, but whether it fits the Plan or not (I think it does) the Nationals need to acquire Major League players now! I am very very much in favor of developing minor league players and giveing them room to advance, but there IS room for the minor league players to advance even if you add a few Free Agents. If Anderson Hernandez develops into a solid player it will be despite his mediocre minor league track record. If Flores continues to progress he will still be a flawed player with an exceptionally low OBP, poor caught stealing numbers, poor baserunning numbers, and too many passed balls and errors. (I actually like Flores, but there is much progress to be made). There are no 1B prospects higher than A ball right now. The Nats are giving their young pitchers a chance.

Posted by: natbisquit | December 30, 2008 11:29 PM | Report abuse

jca, your post just reminded me. Lately all I can do is swirl around all the outfielders in my head trying to figure out where they'll go. But now I remember. Defensively I LOVE Dukes in CF and Kearns in RF. And with Willingham in left? Man, those guys will be shucking and jiving all over that outfield. Nuthin'll get by em.

...cue Kearns haters.

But I'll argue that 1)Kearns has had plenty of time to heal both elbow and heel. 2)We've got a new hitting coach. 3) If he'd just listen to 506 and step back from the plate and fix that stupid arm thing he does, I still think there's hope for the guy.

Posted by: NatsNut | December 31, 2008 7:27 AM | Report abuse

jcaTBNL, thanks for finding that Zimmerrrmmaannnnn thing; I'd totally forgotten about that mention. You do use the all-important phrase "barring a big deal," which of course hovers over everything we chat about here.

506, just yesterday another blog mentioned something called Value Wins. Here's the description: http://www.fangraphs.com/blogs/index.php/replacement-value Here's a listing of top batters: http://www.fangraphs.com/leaders.aspx?pos=all&stats=bat&lg=all&qual=y&type=6&season=2008&month=0

Essentially, the stat is batting runs (positive or negative) plus fielding runs (positive or negative), then translated into wins (and then they translate it into dollars, but whatever). Might be what you're looking for. (The really stunning thing I saw was just how many runs Dunn gives away -- by this metric -- on D. Truly abominable.)

By the way, there seems to have been a proliferation of fielding-related stats lately -- plus/minus, various ZRs. No statistic has meaning until you can get used to it and put it in some sort of context, and I haven't had a chance to do so. I'll bet someone here has spent some quality time with these stats; if you wouldn't mind posting a primer of what you like and why, I'd sure appreciate it.

Posted by: Scooter_ | December 31, 2008 8:10 AM | Report abuse

BinM - no order for the pitchers intended. I like switching the lefties and righties, hard throwers / soft tossers too. My ignoring Hill shows how far he's fallen off my radar. If Barry is reading this and recalls Hill's sinker, he's now feeling a pain similar to when you think of an old high school crush for the first time in years. I think we all should chip in to fly Hill and Johnson to Lourdes because if both are healthy, this is a dramatically better team.

That press conference I think helped kick off the speculation that Milledge is trade bait, compounded by the Willingham acquisition. It'll only get stronger if Dunn were signed.

Posted by: jca-CrystalCity | December 31, 2008 8:36 AM | Report abuse

A curious thought just popped into my head; We know Willingham has posted a few innings at 1B, but what about Kearns?
Barring a trade, if the Nationals were coming out of Viera safe in the knowledge that Willingham &/or Kearns can handle the position when Slick goes down, it makes for a clearer rotation.

Posted by: BinM | December 31, 2008 8:44 AM | Report abuse

"if you wouldn't mind posting a primer of what you like and why, I'd sure appreciate it."

I'm turning on the Hendo Signal now

Posted by: Section506 | December 31, 2008 9:05 AM | Report abuse

If they trade Milledge the return had better be huge. He has flaws certainly but his bat speed is off the chart, he can steal and I refuse to believe he can't improve on defense. If not into a passable centre fielder, at very least into a good left fielder. Willigham has reached his potential and it's middling at best. Milledge has not reached his and he is almost as good with a lot of head room. Trading him makes no sense unless they get a superb first baseman or a true leadoff/centrefielder who is 26 or young. Which seems unlikely.

Posted by: soundbloke | December 31, 2008 10:35 AM | Report abuse

sound - I'm with you on Milledge. IF the nats' trade him, they'd better get a top-line need filled in return.

Posted by: BinM | December 31, 2008 11:11 AM | Report abuse

It just get irritates the hell out of me that a young guy with huge upside is on the block while Kearns, Willigham and Belliard sit around taking up space on the roster and payroll. Harris I'll give them because of his attitude, versatility and general splendidness. I can see letting Redding go if they think Zimmerman, Martis, Hill and Bergman can fill that last spot, but why dump a potential stud?

Posted by: soundbloke | December 31, 2008 11:17 AM | Report abuse

It's like you're reading my mind, BinM. I was wondering the same thing just yesterday.

To me, it could do several things: 1) give some relief to the glut of outfielders, 2) give some insurance in the event of a Johnson injury, 3) give further insurance in the event of a Willingham injury after Johnson is hurt, 4) find a way to get Kearns more ABs in the hopes he either turns it around or gains some market value.

Plus, one would assume his defensive skills would translate well at 1B, and his work ethic would suggest he'd give it an earnest go.

-----

A curious thought just popped into my head; We know Willingham has posted a few innings at 1B, but what about Kearns?

Posted by: JohninMpls | December 31, 2008 11:19 AM | Report abuse

So wait. We won't play Milledge in left because he can't produce enough, but we'll put Kearns at first? Just about the most productive spot on the field for power?

It's will be another long season unless we do something soon won't it?

Posted by: soundbloke | December 31, 2008 11:44 AM | Report abuse

sound: I think Milledge is a good, young player who may become a very good player over the next few years. I also don't mind the thought of a 4-man rotation in the OF, barring a trade. The thought of seeing if Kearns has value as a 1B can help both the player & the team.

I've posted similar thoughts in the past regarding WMP.

Posted by: BinM | December 31, 2008 11:55 AM | Report abuse

I agree, I agree.

But if we are going to play Kearns there we might as well stick Casto in. He's better on defense and bring the same ineptitude with the bat to a power position.

Actually, I'm just being grumpy. It's a good idea to at least train him there. If we don't actually sign someone good that is.

Go Rhinehart!

Posted by: soundbloke | December 31, 2008 12:06 PM | Report abuse

A good amount of Kearns's value is his superb RF arm. Moving him to 1st would waste that. First is where you hide a big bat. Kearns's weakness is his bat, in the view of the skeptical public. It might make sense to have him take infield a bit, just because position flexibility is nice, but, as an option, he'd be below Willingham, probably Belliard, Kasto if he makes the team, and Brad Eldred if he is in AAA..

Oh, since the poster to be named later has been named jca, it probably should be PTBNjca instead of jcaTBNL.

Posted by: jca-CrystalCity | December 31, 2008 12:10 PM | Report abuse

Perhaps I'm being obtuse, but I don't see the line up combination that would put Kearns at 1B. If he's playing, he's one of the three best defensive OFs in the line up. They don't have three better ones. Why would they put him at 1st?

#4

Posted by: db423 | December 31, 2008 12:12 PM | Report abuse

The thing is, we don't exactly have any big bats to hide at first.

I certainly don't want Kearns to be considered a permanent solution at first. But taking some practice at the position in Spring Training might be a good idea.

I mean, that's how Casto got started at first, after all. He's a third baseman by trade, but was moved to left in ST because he was blocked by Zimmerman. With Johnson out, there was an open competition at first. Someone suggested it might be Casto's best chance to crack the roster, so he picked up a mitt and gave it a go.

Posted by: JohninMpls | December 31, 2008 12:22 PM | Report abuse

#4: I'm just trying to think of ways to increase marketabliity for some of the players on the current 40-man. There probably isn't a lineup combo where Kearns would man 1B, unless the Nats end up with 5 of them on the DL like they had last year.

Posted by: BinM | December 31, 2008 12:27 PM | Report abuse

Mainly because we have too much time on our hands and not enough baseball news to digest. Seriously, could you imagine the moves that this team would pursue if we were all co-GMs?

But, just for the heck of it, consider the following scenario:

Nick Johnson is injured and Willingham's on the DL because his back injury has flared up. Young's at a buffet in Syracuse, and Belliard is starting at second because Hernandez is in a slump. Rather than make a move and call up Casto, they move Kearns to 1B, Dukes to RF, Harris to CF, and Milledge to LF.

Honestly, after last season, it's not that absurd a scenario, is it?

Plus, if Kearns hits at all, I'm assuming it would give the Nats a little more leverage in a trade if he gets a few games in a first.

-----

Why would they put him at 1st?

Posted by: JohninMpls | December 31, 2008 12:28 PM | Report abuse

I'd sooner put MANNY at first. I'd suggest Bonds, but he'd never agree to it.

OTOH, Maybe RICKEY would consider it ...

naaaaahh

Posted by: CEvansJr | December 31, 2008 12:57 PM | Report abuse

And if you're going to go *there*, Elijah Dukes is 6' 2" and maybe the closest thing to a potentially big bat as they have now.

Harris 7
Milledge 8
Kearns 9
Dukes 3

Posted by: CEvansJr | December 31, 2008 1:02 PM | Report abuse

JohninMpls,
you should probably bookmark this page because, reading your post, it sounds so plausible as to be prescient.

Posted by: NatsNut | December 31, 2008 1:07 PM | Report abuse

new post, btw

Posted by: NatsNut | December 31, 2008 1:08 PM | Report abuse

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