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A Few Rumors, A Few FAs, A Few Yanks

Just a few drops of oil on the hot stove...

* The Nats will not be among the players for Texas Rangers shortstop Michael Young. The two teams have had some basic discussions, but it figures to end at that. Young is due $62 million over the next five seasons. That is one of the most untradeable contracts in baseball, and the Nats are inclined to agree: They feel that a $15 million annual salary for a 32-year-old is too steep.

* So, are the Nats really interested in that pair of potentially available New York Yankees, Xavier Nady and Nick Swisher? Nothing is serious on this front yet, sources are telling me. Yes, the two teams have had some discussions. And Swisher in particular fits the profile of what the Nats want. (He's a switch hitter; he has some pop; he's 28.) Folks on the Yanks side, though, believe they can get more for Swisher -- if even they want to trade him -- than what Washington is willing to, or even able to, offer.

For the time being, especially as Washington tries to tries to get leverage with its free agent targets, it's in the team's interest to send those free agents a message: i.e., 'We have other options if you don't come here. We are not desperate to have you.' In other words, having the Swisher-Nady rumors around helps Nats... even if Swisher and/or Nady is a longshot to ever help the team himself.

That said, if Washington eventually makes a hard run at either, expect it to be Swisher. Nady is a righty and a free agent next year. He's a Scott Boras client -- essentially, a one-year rental. Swisher has a more favorable contract -- he's locked up through at least 2011 -- and more versatility, with the ability to play in the outfield and at first base. Of course, for the same reasons that Swisher is more desirable, he is also less likely to be dealt. New York might just end up hanging on to Swisher after all.

* I have full faith that the literate NJ crowd can read between the slimmest of lines, but let me just do my own interpretive work. Just to be clear: Washington is still very much in interested in obtaining Adam Dunn and Orlando Hudson. The Nats' hard-line bargaining with those guys -- declaring their value too high... saying they've moved on to other targets -- is just part of the posturing.

By Chico Harlan  |  January 12, 2009; 3:22 PM ET
 
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Comments

Mets fans should be dreading Redding
http://www.nydailynews.com/blogs/touchingbase/2009/01/mets-fans-should-be-dreading-r.html

I got a laugh out of this.

Posted by: jctichen | January 12, 2009 3:43 PM | Report abuse

Well, if they continue posturing, they will find themselves with essentially the same club as last year in Viera and a PO'd fan base...

Posted by: S2DU | January 12, 2009 3:59 PM | Report abuse

Chico -- thanks for the updates. Especially the Marrero one.

Now, has there been any word on whether the Chief pitched in front of the other teams on Friday or not? How did he look?

Also, how's Nick doing these days? We've got 5 weeks left until P/C report and I'd like to have some pieve of mind going in that Nick is healthy (for now).

Posted by: erocks33 | January 12, 2009 4:01 PM | Report abuse

re Cordero the Former Nat, I put his name in the Google and found this: http://calstatefullerton.scout.com/a.z?s=45&p=2&c=828947

This sentence appears to answer your question, erocks: "The Diamondbacks have shown interest in RHP Chad Cordero, and they attended his two flat-ground throwing sessions in California on January 7th and 9th."

Posted by: Scooter_ | January 12, 2009 4:10 PM | Report abuse

to steal Boston Globe basebal columnist Nick Cafardo's line...totally appropos of nothing. I'm at home today and have been looking in on the HOF coverage of MLB Network. Around the coverage, MLBN is rerunning games from the 1989 AL Championship Series between Toronto and Oakland. Even though it was only 20 years ago, it looks like a totally different sport. The players' bodies are smaller and leaner and the pitchers worked faster. And the pace of the game is better with batters not walking halfway to the concession stands between each pitch. I saw the rebroadcast of Larsen's perfect game on New Year's Day, and the pace of that game was even faster.

Posted by: leetee1955 | January 12, 2009 4:18 PM | Report abuse

I think the truth in all of this lies somewhere in the middle.

Sure, the Nationals are posturing in hopes of gaining a better position in negotiations with Adam Dunn and Orlando Hudson.

But the team has to have a "Plan-C," regardless of what they say publicly about Teixiera having been a special case.

For the first off season in club history, fans have had high hopes that the team would make some immediate moves to strengthen the major league roster.

To have tried and failed - on all fronts - to better the team will be a far worse fate than simply never having tried in the first place.

The team knows they have to make some kind of a big move or risk permanently alienating all of those fence-sitting Nationals' fans who are watching them very closely right now.

Posted by: rushfari | January 12, 2009 4:29 PM | Report abuse

I think the more important question is how Dmitri is doing. Switch-hitting, power hitter who can play 1B when he's in shape? A simple, simple question answers a lot of short-term problems: is he in shape?

Posted by: NatsNut | January 12, 2009 4:45 PM | Report abuse

Chico,

I'd love to see prospect updates, news, etc. Obviously any trade negotiations serve as juicy gossip, but anything about our farm systems and individuals standing out is also very helpful. GO NATS!

Posted by: NatsandSkinsareclassclassclass | January 12, 2009 4:47 PM | Report abuse

I would settle for '07 shape, too. "Can he swing a bat?" in fact is what I'd settle for.

Posted by: Section506 | January 12, 2009 4:47 PM | Report abuse

Wait. I just tried to look Dmitri up and he's nowhere on the roster. What does that mean?

Posted by: NatsNut | January 12, 2009 4:52 PM | Report abuse

Dmitri was DFA'd and cleared waivers. He's currently off the 40-man and on the Syracuse (AAA) roster.

Posted by: erocks33 | January 12, 2009 4:56 PM | Report abuse

Ohhhhhh. That totally got by me. Thanks for that erock.

Posted by: NatsNut | January 12, 2009 5:01 PM | Report abuse

>"Can he swing a bat?" in fact is what I'd settle for.

That, and can he drive in 85-90 at AA this year. Nick's contract is over next year. Time to kick it into high gear.

Posted by: Brue | January 12, 2009 5:19 PM | Report abuse

As much as i hate to admit it, looks like the Nats are going to be on the sidelines hey i didn't expect for them to get Texiera just be competitive and to my surprise they were,not that crazy about Dunn(too many k's). Now on a lighter note congrat's to Rickey Henderson and Jim Rice(finally) for the selection to the HOF,nice article about Rickey in Sunday's NY Times where teamate and fellow HOFamer Dennis Eckersley called Rickey one of the smartest player's he ever played with, quoting Eck "Rickey wanted to play until he was fifty" Rice was one of the most feared hitters in Bosox history and when you think of Rice it always seems he would have more impressive stat's nontheless i think all Red Sox fan's should be celebrating,congratulation's to both!

Posted by: dargregmag | January 12, 2009 5:26 PM | Report abuse

someone wrote "To have tried and failed - on all fronts - to better the team will be a far worse fate than simply never having tried in the first place."

That trade where they acquired Willingham and Olsen may be the most lopsided trade, in terms of talent acquired to talent given up this offseason. It was a great acquisition for the team, even if neither are stars. They both make this team immediately better.

Posted by: CharlieF | January 12, 2009 5:32 PM | Report abuse

Thanks for the posts, Chico. I liked the interpretive work as well. :-)

Posted by: natsfan1a1 | January 12, 2009 5:33 PM | Report abuse

"That trade where they acquired Willingham and Olsen may be the most lopsided trade, in terms of talent acquired to talent given up this offseason."

That's why everyone's nervous

Posted by: Section506 | January 12, 2009 5:43 PM | Report abuse

@Leetee...I'm not sure if you can really judge these rebroadcasts by the "pace." They do some editing.

That said, I also watched the Larson perfect game and I must say that I was rather surprised. Those early cameras do play some visual tricks (The outfield looked about 250 down the lines and 325 to straight away center), but intermixed with some of the shots of the last couple of years...Larson would have gotten lit up like a Christmas tree if he had pitched in the last decade. The pitchers throwing now have much more break on their pitches and much, much better control.

Posted by: Catcher50 | January 12, 2009 6:50 PM | Report abuse

Here are some numbers for all of you to chew on regarding the 1B discussion. I've used career averages (from mlb.com) for the four players in this particular comparison for both hitting & fielding. For hitting, the RP/g line is a raw formula ((RS+RBI)-HR)/GP= Runs produced per game; In fielding, TC/g & E/g are Total Chances & Errors per game.

1B candidates - 2009
Hitting (Bat/Yrs) GP BAvg/ SLG/ OBP/ OPS RP/g
N. Johnson (L/7-yr) 91 .269/ .456/ .396/ .853 0.901
D. Young (S/13-yr) 105 .292/ .475/ .351/ .826 0.850
N.Swisher (S/5-yr) 122 .244/ .410/ .332/ .742 0.938
A. Dunn (L/8-yr) 141 .247/ .518/ .373/ .901 0.966

Fielding (yrs) GP TC/g E/g FPct RF
N. Johnson (7-yr) 91 8.52 0.067 .992 9.21
D. Young (13-yr) 24 7.63 0.096 .987 8.886
N. Swisher (5-yr) 46 7.64 0.044 .994 9.546
A. Dunn (6-yr) 21 9.61 0.118 .984 9.61

I thought about including Willingham in this comp, but with only two games at 1B in 2006, he falls in the "back-up plan ver3.0" category, along with WMP & Kearns. Have at it.

Posted by: BinM | January 12, 2009 7:08 PM | Report abuse

>The pitchers throwing now have much more break on their pitches and much, much better control.

Yeah right that's why they have so many more complete games. Because of their control. It's not like everyone today takes 90+ pitches to get through 6 innings. You say that centerfield in Yankee Stadium (435 feet) looked like 325 and you can tell the break on Larson's pitches.

Posted by: Brue | January 12, 2009 7:28 PM | Report abuse

BinM - Thanks for the compilations between the 1st baseman. So the conclusion is we should hope for a healthy Dmitri Young? LOL

Adam Dunn has some intangibles too that don't show up in the stats and that is he will be better protection for the #3 hitter and his size at 1st base makes him an interesting target for high throws (hmmm)

Posted by: GoingGoingGone | January 12, 2009 7:37 PM | Report abuse

@Brue:

Based on the current roster, if NJohnson 'kicks it into high gear' in 2009, so much the better for the Nationals; he either enhances his trade value come June, or gives the team a good season before they say "buh-bye" in October.

Posted by: BinM | January 12, 2009 7:40 PM | Report abuse

@GGG:
My primary concern over Dunn as a 1B is the E/g ratio - a better than 1-in-10 there equates to a near Dick Stuart/"Dr. Strangeglove" season of over 25 errors.

Posted by: BinM | January 12, 2009 7:48 PM | Report abuse

Sorry, 'better' should have been replaced with 'greater', as in "a greater than 1-in-10...".

Posted by: BinM | January 12, 2009 7:51 PM | Report abuse

Nats moving from Channel 20 to 50. 20 games to be broadcast on Ch. 50 in 2009

Posted by: seancollins121 | January 12, 2009 7:53 PM | Report abuse

Nats moving from Channel 20 to 50. 20 games to be broadcast on Ch. 50 in 2009

Posted by: seancollins121 | January 12, 2009 7:53 PM
-------------------
OK, but what's the story on the radio side?

Posted by: BinM | January 12, 2009 7:55 PM | Report abuse

>Based on the current roster, if NJohnson 'kicks it into high gear' in 2009

If he had a good year, he'd offer to re-sign with the team at a discount rate, based on sheer guilt/gratitude. Just like Guzman did. They got Gooz for cheap, too. I know that I don't have a beef with him at 1B as long as he's in the lineup every day. It's when he's not, then there's a problem.

Posted by: Brue | January 12, 2009 8:11 PM | Report abuse

@Brue:
Enough is enough - Unlike the "DaMeat" signing in 2007, I'd like to believe that the Nationals FO has learned their lesson with "Slick". They'll either move him before June, or let him walk in October. He's too fragile to be counted on as a regular, and there are some pups in the system for 2010 & beyond.

Posted by: BinM | January 12, 2009 8:20 PM | Report abuse

Bin

The point is, you're not allowing him to actually produce. You talk about moving him in June, or getting rid of him at the end of the season, as if his season will be played in a vaccum. If he hits, then what do you do then? He could hit .310. So don't be so eager to cut him, he may be good for a whole lot of OPS>

Posted by: Brue | January 12, 2009 8:29 PM | Report abuse

@Brue:
In the vacuum of a single season, maybe; overall, not so much (wrist, 2008; broken leg, 2006; "On DL for 7th consecutive year because of right heel contusion, 2005" quote from mlb.com). Three semi-healthy seasons over eight years & 30 y.o. to start the 2009 season.

I like him as a player, just not enough to keep him around in the National League.

Posted by: BinM | January 12, 2009 8:45 PM | Report abuse

Are those Dunn defensive stats based on 1b or on LF/1b? Cause really, he's got a nice range factor for a 1b. Also, he plays very few games at 1b, and if it were his fulltime job, you'd think he'd practice things like scooping throws.

Posted by: Section406 | January 12, 2009 8:45 PM | Report abuse

@406:
Those numbers were for 1B only for all players in the comp list. He's got a good range factor because of his height, I believe, but has 'ball-into-glove' issues at both 1B & LF.

Posted by: BinM | January 12, 2009 8:53 PM | Report abuse

"So the conclusion is we should hope for a healthy Dmitri Young? LOL"

Posted by: GoingGoingGone | January 12, 2009 7:37 PM

********************

uh, yea. Until we actually *get* Dunn and/or Swisher, we better do a lot of hoping. ;)

Posted by: NatsNut | January 12, 2009 9:58 PM | Report abuse

The Nationals' problem, as I see it is that if they sign Dunn, they're committed to his as the primary 1B & trade NJohnson asap; with Swisher, they have options, even though he's a better-fielding 1B then he'll ever be in the OF. For 2009, it was 'Teixiera or bust' at 1B.

Posted by: BinM | January 12, 2009 10:20 PM | Report abuse

I just can't believe people here, and/or Nats fans in general, are hoping for or expecting Nick Johnson or Dameat to factor into the 1b discussion at all.
Last year showed us how many light years away from real competition the Nats are, both in everyday talent and bench options. I really hope NJ is able to complete an entire season at some point in his career, but let's be honest - he's got a much better chance of going the way of John Patterson (early retirement) than EVER being a dependable 1b option for a major league contender. And Meat is such a mess that he'll probably never play in the bigs again. Not to mention the fact that neither can be counted on for the type of production this team needs - a lineup altering lefty power hitter. Neither of those guys is 30+ homer material even with a full season. It's time to move on, people.

Posted by: ajtrue78 | January 12, 2009 10:32 PM | Report abuse

First base, huh? OK, I'm not 28 (not even in hexidecimal), but I'm lefty, and should be good for 25 HR, 75 RBI, and >.400 OBP.
http://tinyurl.com/6v5gyd

Posted by: CEvansJr | January 12, 2009 11:24 PM | Report abuse

The Nats are going after Puholz. Oops, well we tried.
The Nats are going after Utley. Oops, well we tried.
The Nats are going after every major superstar. Oops, well we tried.
If this weren't baseball, the Lerners would be arrested for fraud. They have no intention of signing anyone who might cost some money. I am convinced that if Texiera had taken the Nats deal, the Lerners would've either found a way to renege or would've gone into collective cardiac arrest. Their entire approach to this team is to milk it for every last nickel and then milk it again.

Posted by: willgiery | January 12, 2009 11:31 PM | Report abuse

It's a month til spring training starts and they haven't signed anyone else yet for 1B. Who else should we be talking about?

Until they *do* sign someone else, and until Nick Johnson actually *does* get hurt again, he's the starting 1B.

I doubt Meat's comeback as much as the next guy but IF (big IF) he's healthy, of course he'd be backup. He's a switch-hitting power guy.


*************************************
I just can't believe people here, and/or Nats fans in general, are hoping for or expecting Nick Johnson or Dameat to factor into the 1b discussion at all...

It's time to move on, people.

Posted by: ajtrue78 | January 12, 2009 10:32 PM

Posted by: NatsNut | January 13, 2009 6:22 AM | Report abuse

The Nats are going after Puholz. Oops, well we tried.
The Nats are going after Utley. Oops, well we tried.
The Nats are going after every major superstar. Oops, well we tried.
If this weren't baseball, the Lerners would be arrested for fraud. They have no intention of signing anyone who might cost some money. I am convinced that if Texiera had taken the Nats deal, the Lerners would've either found a way to renege or would've gone into collective cardiac arrest. Their entire approach to this team is to milk it for every last nickel and then milk it again.

Posted by: willgiery

It's actually funny when people get confused about their fantasy baseball drafts and post their stream of consciousness babble here instead of their rotoworld blogs.

Posted by: driley | January 13, 2009 7:57 AM | Report abuse

ha ha! i agree, this ain't fantasy land. the majors is tough.


a productive marrero puts us right back on schedule.

Posted by: longterm | January 13, 2009 8:13 AM | Report abuse

Cynacism comes from being disappointed often. It is a defense mechanism. So I guess it is not suprising that so manywho post here are unrelenting in their pessimism. But, the accusations that team management is not making a sincere attempt to improve seem illogical and is unsupported by facts.

You can easily concieve of an MLB Best rotation made up of future Nationals farm hands -- Strasburg, Detwiler, Zimmermann, Lannan, and McGeary, or maybe Smoker, or Balester, or Mock, or VanAllen. There was no way to defend such a future dream just two short years ago.

You can see the potential for 2-3 of the leagues top catchers coming out of the Nationals organization with Norris, Nieto, and maybe Flores. There is a possibility of a truly outstanding starting outfield of Burgess, Hood, and Ramirez or Milledge, or Dukes. The infield may someday include Marrero, Zimmerman, and Smiley Gonzalez.

None of that was in place at the start of the 2006 season - the year the Lerners took over. Add a new stadium that had significant upgrades over the City funded features and by all accounts sincere and aggressive pursuit of top free agents and there is plenty of room for optimism.

2009 is likely not the breakthrough year, but it should be a significantly better year than 2008.

I'll be rooting for Nick Johnson if he ends up as the leading contender for the first base job and I'll be delighted if Anderson Hernandez can win and hold the secondbase job. I'll be thrilled if Milledge, Dukes, Willingham, and Kearns conspire to delivering a solid outfield this year.

The 2009 pitching scares me. We're going to need some efficient pitchers who can throw strikes, work fast, and trust their fielders. Some of the projected starters and relievers (Cabrerra, Balester and Hanrahan in particular) need to learn to work the strike zone more consistently.

Perhaps the Nats can still sign Dunn, Hudson, Wolf, and others to strengthen the team. If not, don't despair. The team has made dramatic improvement even if it is not yet reflected in the onfield performance and twon-lost percentage. No team in baseball has come further faster than the Nats have in the last two years.

Posted by: natbisquit | January 13, 2009 8:32 AM | Report abuse

Here, here, natbisquit.

Might I also add that 2005 was a very special team to all of us -- but it wasn't really a good team. An unsustainable wonderfully good first half proved that Washington does have a baseball town lurking below the surface, just waiting for a team to activate it. But the colossal second half collapse (the inverse of the first half) brought the team back to what was an overachieving .500.

To use 2005 as a benchmark for evaluating the state of the Nationals is a sham. That team was never built to last longer than 2005.

Posted by: Section506 | January 13, 2009 8:55 AM | Report abuse

bisquit, 506: Nicely put, both of y'all.

Posted by: Scooter_ | January 13, 2009 9:37 AM | Report abuse

I'll drink to that, Natsbisquit!

I see last season as the depths that we won't touch again. I see the team improving by at least 10 to 15 games this season simply because we can not possibly have the amount of injuries that we did last season. With the gradual accretion of young talent (one or two starters coming in each season) we should hopefully see a long rising trend on our Nat's lifeline. As for the starting pitching-- that for this season looks to be a rotation that may give you two good outings per five starts. There are just too many question marks there with 40% of starting rotation in flux.

Posted by: driley | January 13, 2009 9:45 AM | Report abuse

Seems like anybody who hit .219 last year and makes 7+ million wouldn't be worth a damn. It certainly wouldn't be an upgrade over anything. Swisher's got more holes than swiss cheese. Going after him just because he's available is a lousy excuse.

Posted by: Brue | January 13, 2009 9:47 AM | Report abuse

I think the most important part of the building is the insurance against injury that it provides. Last year first base was a disaster. If the farm is better stocked, when an injury hits, you can often turn to the youth that is waiting. If we play the game where next years farm system is supporting last years team imagine the difference to these situations:
Milledge is hurt, Davis comes up for a month.
Johnson gets hurt, Marrero comes up.
Flores gets hurt, Montz comes up.

It' a step up.

Posted by: soundbloke | January 13, 2009 9:56 AM | Report abuse

Thank you biusquit ... that was extremely well-put. It amazes me how unrealistic a lot of people are about this team. While I would *LOVE* to be out there watching a 90+ win team every night, I know (and knew) that this was not a possibility with how this team was deconstructed in the early to mid 00's. Selig and his co-horts obliterated this entire organization and it's going to take more than 2 or 3 years to build it back up. There was abxolutely nothing in the pipeline when the Expos came to DC in 2005. I think the Lerners have done a pretty good job overall in their brief tenure as owners to stock the minors. It's going to take time.

Posted by: erocks33 | January 13, 2009 9:56 AM | Report abuse

test

Posted by: jca-CrystalCity | January 13, 2009 10:02 AM | Report abuse

I see you jca

Posted by: soundbloke | January 13, 2009 10:06 AM | Report abuse

Nicely put, Natsbisquit, but even with that list, and Strasburg, the pitching is still a little short of elite. I do think people will be pleasantly surprised by run production this year with good health, even without any additional signees.

Back to the trade spec and FAs, one interesting signing yesterday was Gabe Kapler by the Rays. He'll platoon in RF and back up Upton. They are likely to have one extra lefty bat between Matt Joyce and Gabe Gross after they settle the RF platoon. Were we to move a RH OF somewhere, one of those guys might be useful. Lots of pop. Before the Kapler signing, I thought perhaps Willingham would be a fit there (Ruggiano in the minors backing up Upton), but now, I'm not so sure.

Posted by: jca-CrystalCity | January 13, 2009 10:12 AM | Report abuse

[But, the accusations that team management is not making a sincere attempt to improve seem illogical and is unsupported by facts...You can easily concieve of an MLB Best rotation made up of future Nationals farm hands -- Strasburg, Detwiler, Zimmermann, Lannan, and McGeary, or maybe Smoker, or Balester, or Mock, or VanAllen. There was no way to defend such a future dream just two short years ago.

You can see the potential for 2-3 of the leagues top catchers coming out of the Nationals organization with Norris, Nieto, and maybe Flores. There is a possibility of a truly outstanding starting outfield of Burgess, Hood, and Ramirez or Milledge, or Dukes. The infield may someday include Marrero, Zimmerman, and Smiley Gonzalez.

None of that was in place at the start of the 2006 season - the year the Lerners took over. Add a new stadium that had significant upgrades over the City funded features and by all accounts sincere and aggressive pursuit of top free agents and there is plenty of room for optimism.

2009 is likely not the breakthrough year, but it should be a significantly better year than 2008....The team has made dramatic improvement even if it is not yet reflected in the onfield performance and twon-lost percentage. No team in baseball has come further faster than the Nats have in the last two years.]

This is unprecedented delusion. Even on this blog. I really don't even know how to respond to this.

Posted by: RickFelt | January 13, 2009 10:25 AM | Report abuse

Really? You went to register a user name just to post that?

Posted by: Section506 | January 13, 2009 10:26 AM | Report abuse

bisquit - Amen! Rick - you'll have to do better.

To expand bisquit, I'll post something I posted on another board...
Other than the typical spenders (Yanks, Sox, Cubs), who has done anything to improve their team this offseason? I'm sure we have the same complaints as about 26 other teams. We have money to spend, no bad contracts after this year, have 2 top 10 picks, a new stadium, a decent young core, good pitching prospects, and probably will spend when the market sorts itself out.

Would you like to be an Indians fan? Hey guys, we had to trade CC, but look we got Pavano!
What about Angel fan? Hey guys, sorry about Tex and K-Rod.
What about Jays? Hey guys sorry about Burnette.
Phillies? Bye Burrell, hello Ibanez and welcome back Moyer!
Braves? Sorry about not getting Burnette or Furcal.
Dodgers? We'll see about Manny, bye bye Lowe and Penny, but we got Furcal back!
Rangers? Young, can you take your gold glove to 3B (read: will you accept a trade?). (Kudos for the #1 farm though)...
A's? Guys attendance is down, but we'll fix that by trading prospects and getting one year of Holliday and Giambi!
Cards? Sorry, can't get pitching, but hello Greene!
Giants? We'll talk about everybody, but end up just over-spending on Renteria.
Etc, etc, etc.

Posted by: goexpos2 | January 13, 2009 10:41 AM | Report abuse

"You can easily concieve of an MLB Best rotation made up of future Nationals farm hands -- Strasburg, Detwiler, Zimmermann, Lannan, and McGeary, or maybe Smoker, or Balester, or Mock, or VanAllen. There was no way to defend such a future dream just two short years ago.

You can see the potential for 2-3 of the leagues top catchers coming out of the Nationals organization with Norris, Nieto, and maybe Flores. There is a possibility of a truly outstanding starting outfield of Burgess, Hood, and Ramirez or Milledge, or Dukes. The infield may someday include Marrero, Zimmerman, and Smiley Gonzalez."
---

I like the optimism. Yes, the Nats have a farm system now, but almost every team has guys like these.

Posted by: jctichen | January 13, 2009 10:47 AM | Report abuse

---Seems like anybody who hit .219 last year and makes 7+ million wouldn't be worth a damn. It certainly wouldn't be an upgrade over anything. Swisher's got more holes than swiss cheese. Going after him just because he's available is a lousy excuse.

Posted by: Brue | January 13, 2009 9:47 AM----

Totally agree. The person who started the "RUMOR" I believe was traced back to some guy named BILL LADSON.

If this was true, than Wily Mo and Kearns should be starters too since the Nats should have as many position players as they can at .219 and BELOW!!!!!!!!!

If JimBo wants to make the Nats the junk yard where they catch the lucky nugget every 1 out of 4 times they will never progress as Dmitri Young in 2007 didn't make up for the rest of the mistakes and Elijah Dukes didn't make up for the negatives of LoDuca, Machowiak, Johnnie Estrada, etc.

Each player you bring in MUST BE an upgrade at each position. Why downgrade wtih Swisher? Stick with Nick and Stick at 1st base as that is a better option at this point in time unless you can get Adam Dunn.

Willingham and Olsen were a good start. Not sure about Daniel Cabrera as I would have stuck with Tim Redding.

If ownership wants to make the off-season a good success than get Adam Dunn and a proven lead-off man. Ownership set the goal of the lefty power hitter and that guy is still available!!!!

Posted by: GoingGoingGone | January 13, 2009 10:55 AM | Report abuse

I was going to add something about how such moves would require placement on the 40-man roster. But guess what? Davis and Montz are already on it!

And the 40-man currently only has 39 players, I believe, so the Marrrero move would be possible.

-----

Milledge is hurt, Davis comes up for a month.
Johnson gets hurt, Marrero comes up.
Flores gets hurt, Montz comes up.

Posted by: JohninMpls | January 13, 2009 11:04 AM | Report abuse

Natbisquit admitted that he finds the 2009 pitching is a little frightening. Hard to argue with that.

Here are the pitchers currently on the 40-man. Note: I separated them based on their projected role. In the case of converted starters or those who have both started and pitched from the 'pen, I generally selected the role most recently performed.

I might not classify it as fear, but I'm certainly not feeling a lot of excitement about that bullpen right now.

Anyway, feel free to tinker.

Starters:

Atliano (R)
Balester (R)
Bergmann (R)
Cabrera (R)
Chico (L)
Clippard (R)
Detwiler (L)
Hill (R)
Lannan (L)
Martis (R)
Olsen (L)


Relievers:

Estrada (R)
Hanrahan (R)
Hinckley (L)
Mock (R)
O'Connor (L)
Rivera (R)
Shell (R)
Young (R)

Posted by: JohninMpls | January 13, 2009 11:15 AM | Report abuse

Natsbisquit,

I agree with your points, this team is building and the minors are far better off than they were 2-3 years ago. And I loved the Olsen-Willingham trade, which was a steal.

But, here is my beef/question. Why can't the Nats spend a little money on the Major League product to help the transition and make the team more competitive now?

I'm not talking about spending money on 35 year old stop gaps. I don't see the problem with signing 29 year old A. Dunn and/or 30 year old O. Hudson.

It would energize the fan base, and the Lerner's would make their money back with butts in the seats. If they don't sign someone soon, Nats Park is going to be a sea of empty blue seats this year.

I have renewed my 20 gamer but, I get the feeling a lot of people will not.

Posted by: Section505203 | January 13, 2009 11:23 AM | Report abuse

JiM - you are spot-on. I think 2 RP need to be signed (could get by with one proven RP if Prior sticks). I would be ecstatic if they committed some money and years to Juan Cruz...

Posted by: goexpos2 | January 13, 2009 11:35 AM | Report abuse

MLBTR has the Astros in negotiations with Captain Red@ss. Have fun with that.

Posted by: RicketyCricket | January 13, 2009 11:45 AM | Report abuse

Nobody has mentioned replacing Lenny Harris with Rick Ecktein. Only my opinion at this time but I think that improves offensive production 10-25%. We'll see.

Posted by: sjt1455 | January 13, 2009 11:50 AM | Report abuse

Interesting to not have heard any news from the Nationals recently except that the asking price of some of the remaining free agents is too high. Hmmm, Teixeira was going for 180 million. Where did that money go? The 2009 lineup is pretty much the same and we were 59-102??? Its just disgusting to see teams like Boston, they have 7, count them 7 starting pitchers better than the Nationals #1. Up until now this franchise is embarrassing the Expos history. Enough said.

Posted by: johnhoward19 | January 13, 2009 11:56 AM | Report abuse

I'm coming to the realization that it may not matter how much $$$ the FO tries to throw at elite FA's right now. There's just no convincing these guys to come play for a team that just lost 102 games when there are contenders still looking to fill roster spots.

It's likely that the Nats will have to over pay to land any of the top FAs. The FO was willing to do that for Tex but not anyone else.

Like it or not, we're in a position that $$$ alone can't fix. The Nats need to improve on the field with the youngsters first - maybe even a year or two with steady W/L numbers trending up before they'll be taken seriously as a destination of choice for elite FA's. That's when they can sign an impact player or two without dramatically overpaying. That's when you'll see the owners purse strings loosen up a bit.

This may have been blindingly obvious to some. I however was blinded by all the $$$ they were willing to throw at Tex.

Posted by: RicketyCricket | January 13, 2009 11:57 AM | Report abuse

I can see a solid rotation emerging from among Balester, Cabrera, Detwiler, Lannan, Olsen and Zimmermann. We will probably need to add a veteran or two to this group in order to contend, but there is enough talent here to justify some optimism.

If Dukes can keep his nose clean, he could be the long-term answer in right.

I think this is a key year for Milledge, he needs to improve in the field and at the plate. Can he possibly add 30 points to his averages (.268/.330/.402) and become our leadoff-hitting CF? Or is he just an average MLB LF?

Our other existing core pieces are Flores and Zimmerman. Can Ryan have the kind of season that justifies a David Wright-style contract (6 years, $55 million)? Flores has proven he belongs, but that .296 OBP has to improve, and 15 dingers would be nice.

That leaves gaps at 1b, 2b, ss and either LF or CF, depending upon Lastings. At first, we're all hoping for Marrero, but he's only 20 and will probably start the season in A-ball. So we need at least a stopgap here. Is Adam Dunn the answer? I respect the power and the OBP, but have concerns over the defense, the average and the attitude (particularly after a big payday). Still, I think I would welcome the signing if only to shut up the LAC crowd.

At 2b, perhaps this is the future home of Smiley Gonzalez, whose tools are probably insufficient to keep him at short. Even if so, he's only 19 and in rookie ball. So I'm on board with an O-Dog signing.

At short, we already have our stopgap in Guzman, which is fine for the moment. But I certainly hope that there is an organizational focus on acquiring and developing middle infielders and CFs, much as they have focused on pitching over the past two years. I suppose there is still hope for Ian Desmond, but he needs to have a breakout season soon.

And in the OF, we have Burgess, Hood and Ramirez in the pipeline, but they're all a few years away and none projects as a CF. So, again, we're really weak up the middle. We need a Tulowitzki, a Pedroia and an Ellsbury. That scares me more than the pitching staff.

Posted by: BobLHead | January 13, 2009 12:02 PM | Report abuse

"Really? You went to register a user name just to post that?"

I've been registered for months I just haven't posted in a while. It's also incredibly difficult to log in on this site. Countless hoops they make you jump through.

The fact is you're touting slightly above average (other than Strasburg, who may not even be signed anyway) minor league guys that nearly every organization has in their system. These players represent no comparative advantage over other clubs with decent farm systems. The difference between us and them is that we have no major league product to speak of.

Posted by: RickFelt | January 13, 2009 12:05 PM | Report abuse

Also, I meant to add McGeary and Smoker to my list of future rotation candidates.

Posted by: BobLHead | January 13, 2009 12:07 PM | Report abuse

Ahem, and Strasburg.

And RickFelt, I think you have a point, but a lot of us are actually intent on celebrating the arrival of an average farm system.

Posted by: BobLHead | January 13, 2009 12:11 PM | Report abuse

Not every organization has pitching prospects of the same quality as the Nats. That is simply not true. There are several teams that have a few pitching prospects that are better than any currently in the Nats organizaiton, but the breadth of quality prospects that the Nats have added in the past two years is not that common.

I do agree that the Nats should continue to try to sign good players at good prices, and cynacism not withstanding there is ample evidence that the Nationals have attempted (and continue to attempt) to do that. The problem is there are multiple Playoff contending teams seeking the same players.

Dunn, Hudson, Wolf - the most frequently rumored players - all are linked to better teams for similar money as well. You can't make free agents sign.

In the end, the Nats will likely have signed 1-2 free agents before opening day. Soon Manny and Lowe will sign somewhere. Others will follow including a few to the Nats. (IMO)

Posted by: natbisquit | January 13, 2009 12:14 PM | Report abuse

Great post, BobLHead (even if you didn't call Desmond by his preferred name, "Diamond" Ian Desmond). On the whole, I find the infield concerns more troublesome than the lack of a true CF, but that's just me.

I do think it's worth pointing out that, with decent-to-solid pitching prospects in the system, the FO may be able to address some of these gaps via trade.

Prospects don't have to end up in a Nats uniform to have value for the organization. Pitching seems to be the most valuable commodity in baseball, so I don't mind the stockpiling effort.

Posted by: JohninMpls | January 13, 2009 12:22 PM | Report abuse

2009 is likely not the breakthrough year, but it should be a significantly better year than 2008
--------------------------------------

That's just it, isn't it?
How can you expect a team that has not improved at all in any area to be significantly better? Even if they are 100% healthy all year the starters on this team are AAA or bench options on contenders. The way it stands right now the Nats will be fielding an entire roster of right handed batters with one switchy - you expect that to be better? Delusional.

Posted by: ajtrue78 | January 13, 2009 12:30 PM | Report abuse

Well, Johnson figures to be the starting 1B for the time being, and he's a lefty. Guzman and Hernandez are both switch-hitters. But you do make a good point.

The only other left-handed hitter on the team would be Willie Harris (unless Casto makes the 25-man). That leaves one bench player that can hit from the right side of the plate - none if Harris is starting.

Of course, the Nats tried to solve this problem last year by having reserves like Mackowiak (L), Estrada (S), Lopez (S), and Young (S). Yikes.

Posted by: JohninMpls | January 13, 2009 12:47 PM | Report abuse

I don't think it is delusional to expect this year's team to be better than last year, but I doubt they will make it to .500, too. I can see this lineup as being fairly productive if everyone can stay healthy...

Guzman (s)
Milledge (r)
Zimmerman (r)
Johnson (l)
Dukes (r)
Willingham (r)
Hernandez (s)
Flores (r)
pitcher

If Hernandez can come anywhere close to batting like he is in the Dominican league this winter, maybe you can move him up in the order a bit to spread out some of the righties. All in all, I think that Zimmerman, Johnson, Dukes and Willingham look to be fairly imposing. Certainly an improvement over Zim, Young, Kearns, Pena!

Posted by: brewer1 | January 13, 2009 12:54 PM | Report abuse

natbisquit - Thanks for your post way above.

We have come a long way, baby and the good news about being the near worst farm system in 2006 and the worst big league team in 2008 is we have no where but up to go. True baseball fans know this is gonna take a while to build. The owners have had the team for 2 years, but everyone wants a winner now. Come on, the great philosopher Rodney Dangerfield once said. "Hey remember to look out for number one but don't step in number two" The negative bloggers here are giving me nothing but number two....

Posted by: Berndaddy | January 13, 2009 1:01 PM | Report abuse

So much for the Boz theory that the Braves are circling the drain - they just snagged Derek Lowe and Kenshin Kawakami...

http://sports.espn.go.com/mlb/news/story?id=3829521

http://sports.espn.go.com/mlb/news/story?id=3829404

Your turn Nats

Posted by: Kev29 | January 13, 2009 1:03 PM | Report abuse

How can you expect a team that has not improved at all in any area to be significantly better? Even if they are 100% healthy all year the starters on this team are AAA or bench options on contenders. The way it stands right now the Nats will be fielding an entire roster of right handed batters with one switchy - you expect that to be better? Delusional.
----------------------------------------

It's not delusional to expect that a team where most of its starting position players start most of its games will be better than a team where all of its starting position players spend significant time on the DL. It's not delusional to expect a reasonably healthy Nats team, with an average number of days missed to injury, to be a 70+ win team. That's not going to impress anybody, but it WILL be significantly better than last year.

Posted by: TomServo | January 13, 2009 1:13 PM | Report abuse

If finishing above .500 were easy, everybody would do it.

Posted by: CEvansJr | January 13, 2009 1:22 PM | Report abuse

But seriously, folks, IIRC, about this time last year, Detroit was going to win 100+ games, Seattle was overpaying for everyone they could convince to take the money for playing with a perennial loser, and Tampa was still a joke for thinking **changing their name** would finally put them over the top, or at least over the hump in the middle.

Posted by: CEvansJr | January 13, 2009 1:26 PM | Report abuse

This club will be better as long as it stays reasonably healthy. Rebuilding takes time and boy did this franchise and farm system need to be rebuilt.

I just wish they would overpay on A. Dunn, especially. The need for a LH power bat in this lineup is staggering. If the lineup does add a 35-40 HR guy. This team could surprise people, 75 wins is not out of reach, IMO.

Posted by: Section505203 | January 13, 2009 1:35 PM | Report abuse

I'm more of a Glass-is-at-50%-and-holding type.
(There's no "I" in cynac--even if there should be. But there's still a Y.)
It's not that the FO is not "making a sincere effort to improve" the team, it's that they are not improving NOW. I'm paying now, I want improvement now, in the "fan experience" at least, if not the W/L. And I don't see any effort there at all, besides stiffing DC on the rent because the roof leaks.

Posted by: CEvansJr | January 13, 2009 1:38 PM | Report abuse

Dunn is reportedly asking for 4 years/$56 Million ($14M AAV). I wouldn't pay that unless I was an AL-club so that I could just use him as a DH. If I were the Nats, I might consider 3 year/$36M. Nothing longer than 3 years or $12M AAV.

Also, Braves sign Lowe for 4 years/$60M??? I'll pass.

Posted by: erocks33 | January 13, 2009 1:48 PM | Report abuse

If all breaks right, the Nationals could actually be fun to watch. Their core of young position players hopefully will click at some point. Dukes and Milledge could be the start of an amazing outfield, but the rotation is scary right now and not in the good way.

Do they even have five pitchers who could go into the 7th inning? And the bullpen may be in even worse shape. If, er when Johnson gets hurt, if Zimmerman can't bounce back and if the team doesn't pick up a RF (one who doesn't project as a 4th-5th type like Willingham) then I wouldn't be surprised with another 100 loss season.

There's pitching help down the road, but no one above AA and remember: TNSTAAPP

Posted by: noahthek | January 13, 2009 1:53 PM | Report abuse

Nice to finally see some optimism on this blog. I was about ready to give up reading here.

The gutting this franchise took before the Lerner's took over was catastrophic at the hands of Loria and MLB. As I posted out awhile ago, the 1962 Mets are not so dissimilar from the situation the Nats were in when they limped into town: no farm system, aging veterans, brand new ownership...

The reason the Senators I and II failed is because people did not support those teams. We have everything in place to be successful. It's just gonna take some time.

Posted by: dand187 | January 13, 2009 1:55 PM | Report abuse

No one forget the 2008 Detroit Tigers. The most intimidating lineup in Spring Training...

Posted by: Section506 | January 13, 2009 2:07 PM | Report abuse

@CEvansJr - At the risk of being labelled a grammar/spelling fascist, there actually IS an "I" in "cynic". ;)

And just to make this post more than me playing editor, I'll say that really, just everybody being healthy WILL improve the team. Even a team made up of AAA/bench guys WILL do better if everyone can actually, y'know, play.

Posted by: AtomicOvermind | January 13, 2009 2:10 PM | Report abuse

According to MLBTradeRumors, LoDucca is negotiating with the Astros for a minor league deal. I'm glad he found a team. As someone else said here recently, LoDucca never made excuses, willingly played out of position, and took it like a man when they had to let him go. I hope he has a bounce back year in Houston.

Posted by: natbisquit | January 13, 2009 2:11 PM | Report abuse

"Dunn is reportedly asking for 4 years/$56 Million ($14M AAV). I wouldn't pay that unless I was an AL-club so that I could just use him as a DH. If I were the Nats, I might consider 3 year/$36M. Nothing longer than 3 years or $12M AAV."
___________________________________________

Why? He's 29 and has a ton of power and great OBP. Sure, he strikes out a lot but, so do a lot of pure power hitters. He plays 1st and LF so he plays more than 1 position, a much better option than DA Meat Hook, who could barely play 1.

The 2 million more they would pay a year would probably be made up in ticket sales.


Posted by: Section505203 | January 13, 2009 2:41 PM | Report abuse

"It's not that the FO is not "making a sincere effort to improve" the team, it's that they are not improving NOW. I'm paying now, I want improvement now, in the "fan experience" at least, if not the W/L. And I don't see any effort there at all, besides stiffing DC on the rent because the roof leaks."

Geez Louise, you want them to improve the team NOW, you say? Why the urgency? Dunn and Hudson remain unsigned by any team at this point. Why overpay them NOW when you may be able to get them at a lower price in the month left before ST starts? You know, once they become the last persons in the world to figure out that in these tough economic times no team is going to overpay for them, and they might want to worry less about playing for a winner and more about just having a place to play.

And how can the FO possibly improve your fan experience NOW? Games don't start until April. You want they should come by and upgrade the computer down in your parents' basement where you sit all winter demanding things NOW?

And speaking of NOW, you seem not to notice that the stadium rent dispute has already been resolved. Why continue to mischaracterize it NOW?

Posted by: nunof1 | January 13, 2009 2:47 PM | Report abuse

"You want they should come by and upgrade the computer down in your parents' basement where you sit all winter demanding things NOW?"


Oooh! They can do that?

Posted by: Section506 | January 13, 2009 2:59 PM | Report abuse

I'm holding out on dropping my 4G's for my Nats 41 gamer until my ticket rep contacts me an offers;
-a one-on-one with Barack Obama at the foul line.
-a life time free supply of anything on Bens Chilli Bowl menu.
-an opportunity to have my ashes interned underneath homeplate upon my demise.

I guess that must be the hold-up in signing Dunn and Hudson. They must be asking for more then the FO is willing to deliver; a bucket of balls, a wad of chew and an all expense paid multiple trips around the majors this summer.

Posted by: TippyCanoe | January 13, 2009 3:01 PM | Report abuse

Tippy, in re. the third item on your display list items: I was going to have mine scattered over home plate but a friend suggested that they could be put into rosin bag. ;-)

Posted by: natsfan1a1 | January 13, 2009 3:05 PM | Report abuse

It's a good thing kawakishi and lowe signed with the braves because now with all that money spent that's one less sutor for dunn who is asking for 14 mill a year for 4.

Posted by: Baseball95der26 | January 13, 2009 3:08 PM | Report abuse

Cheer up, things could be a lot worse...

The Mariners are still trying to work out a deal with 2008 first-round pick Josh Fields.

"We have had discussions with his agent, Scott Boras, both in Las Vegas and again with him last week," GM Jack Zduriencik said. "Sometimes these things are a little sensitive, but we are having discussions." Fields was a college senior, so the Aug. 15 deadline didn't apply to him and the Mariners. The reliever is believed to want a $2 million bonus from Seattle, while the Mariners originally offered $1.5 million.

Posted by: jctichen | January 13, 2009 3:13 PM | Report abuse

"-a life time free supply of anything on Bens Chilli Bowl menu."

Unless your name is Cosby or Obama, ain't no way you'll ever get that. And if you're Obama and are trying to collect, prepare for some trash talk from Cosby along with your half smoke all the way.

What I want to see is Cosby and/or Obama show up to collect some of their free Ben's at the ballpark outlet. Although just because they eat free I'm not certain that they're allowed to cut in line. They may need to miss an inning or two just like everyone else.

Posted by: nunof1 | January 13, 2009 3:31 PM | Report abuse

>And just to make this post more than me playing editor, I'll say that really, just everybody being healthy WILL improve the team. Even a team made up of AAA/bench guys WILL do better if everyone can actually, y'know, play.

A geek's dream - to argue about particular levels of mediocrity. But then again, that's what geeks do.

Posted by: Brue | January 13, 2009 3:33 PM | Report abuse

-----According to MLBTradeRumors, LoDucca is negotiating with the Astros for a minor league deal. I'm glad he found a team. As someone else said here recently, LoDucca never made excuses, willingly played out of position, and took it like a man when they had to let him go. I hope he has a bounce back year in Houston.

Posted by: natbisquit | January 13, 2009 2:11 PM ----

Never made excuses? I remember when the Nats signed him and he gave all of his promises of what he was going to do. Then a few days later he appears in the Mitchell Report.

He got let go and got fully paid so what a deal for him. Would that happen to any of us?

He stunk up the joint when he was here and couldn't throw out a runner who didn't stumble to 2nd base. As he struggled you could see the frustration.

The frustration definitely spilled over and unless you need a guy to give you singles and an occassional double, he was drained of all power.

Doesn't surpise me he will get a Minor League contract, but he seemed to like the TV work which should be a good fit for him.

Clearly I am frustrated as he held this team back last year when they played him in the outfield and 1st base. Truly I think he cost the team 2 losses and maybe more.

Also if you think he is a nice guy, I know a Police Officer he yelled at.

Posted by: GoingGoingGone | January 13, 2009 4:53 PM | Report abuse

"Dunn is reportedly asking for 4 years/$56 Million ($14M AAV). I wouldn't pay that unless I was an AL-club so that I could just use him as a DH. If I were the Nats, I might consider 3 year/$36M. Nothing longer than 3 years or $12M AAV."

Hey, I wouldn't pay it either, unless of course my team's top power guy last year hit 14 homers and drove in 61. Those power numbers are better suited to a #7 hitting second baseman in most other clubs!

Posted by: EdDC | January 14, 2009 11:24 AM | Report abuse

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