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Nats Draw Line With Dunn, Hudson

Though the Washington Nationals' pursuit of its top free agent targets -- Adam Dunn and Orlando Hudson -- has not been called off, the team is discouraged about its chances of signing either, one well-placed source said yesterday. For now, Dunn and Hudson are asking for contracts larger than Washington anticipated. And larger than Washington is willing to pay.

That leaves Nationals officials with two options. Either they wait for Dunn's and Hudson's demands to drop -- both, for the moment, are said to be asking for longer and pricier deals than those signed earlier this week by Milton Bradley (three years, $30 million) and Pat Burrell (two years, $16 million) -- or, they dedicate the rest of their offseason attention to trades and lesser free agents.

"The demands of those players," one source said, referencing not only Dunn and Hudson, but also free agent pitcher Randy Wolf, "have them concentrating more on trades now."

Unless the market for those players withers, Washington will enter 2009 with a roster largely unchanged from that which lost 102 games last year. The team made a monumental run at Mark Teixeira, but lost out to the New York Yankees. To date, the Nationals this offseason have added one everyday player (outfielder Josh Willingham) and two starting pitchers (Scott Olsen and Daniel Cabrera). Willingham and Olsen arrived in a package trade with Florida. Cabrera, cut loose by Baltimore, was signed for a one-year, $2.6 million deal.

And that all came before the new year.

Only this week, with the industry back from its collective holiday, has the activity for baseball's free agents really started to pick up. (Plus, many clubs were waiting out the Teixeira saga before spending elsewhere.) Some signings, Burrell's especially, have underscored the manner in which the economy is redefining the baseball market. In 2008, while with the Phillies, Burrell earned $14.3 million. So yes, he's taking a paycut. Following a season in which he hit 33 home runs.

Many of the still-unsigned free agents, though, are not resigned to accept the shrunken market. Pitcher Derek Lowe, the best remaining free agent starter, has received a three-year, $36 million offer from the Mets -- and might be looking for more. (Washington, by the way, is not pursuing Lowe.) Manny Ramirez is reportedly seeking a multi-year contract worth some $25 million annually.

It makes for an interested dynamic in the baseball world. The economy no doubt leaves clubs with less money to spend. But, as we've seen, they are still willing to spend almost without limit for the very best. Sabathia and Teixeira probably would have struck similar deals even if they had been free agents in 2007 or 2010. It's only in the lower tiers of free agency where the true extent of the economic slowdown will potentially show itself, and there, only through some protracted and painful club-agent haggling. So, does a player Dunn (with notable shortcomings and one supreme asset -- his power) still have the leverage to pull of a 2007ish deal? What about a player like Hudson? Let's say this much: Washington isn't going to be the club that enables it.

By Chico Harlan  |  January 8, 2009; 8:06 PM ET
 
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Comments

so our prospective 100-loss, morale-crushing roster as it stands right now if we don't make any more changes at all:

C Flores (23)
1B Johnson (29)
2B Hernandez (25)
3B Zimmerman (24)
SS Guzman (30)
LF Willingham (30)
CF Milledge (23)
RF Dukes (24)

IF Belliard (33)
IF Casto (26)
C Nieves (30)
OF Harris (30)
OF Kearns (28)

SP Lannan (23)
SP Olsen (25)
SP Balester (22)
SP Open
SP Open

SP Contenders : Cabrera (28), Martis (21), Hill (27), Zimmermann (22), Chacin (27), Martin (25)

RP Mock (25)
RP Shell (25)
RP Hinckley (26)
RP Open
RP Open
SU Rivera (30)
CL Hanrahan (26)

RP Contenders: Estrada (24), Young (22), Chico (25), Martin (25), Ledezma (27)

just for a view of just how young this team is after shedding all that dead weight.

Posted by: MrMadison | January 8, 2009 8:13 PM | Report abuse

so our prospective 100-loss, morale-crushing roster as it stands right now if we don't make any more changes at all:

C Flores (23)
1B Johnson (29)
2B Hernandez (25)
3B Zimmerman (24)
SS Guzman (30)
LF Willingham (30)
CF Milledge (23)
RF Dukes (24)

IF Belliard (33)
IF Casto (26)
C Nieves (30)
OF Harris (30)
OF Kearns (28)

SP Lannan (23)
SP Olsen (25)
SP Balester (22)
SP Open
SP Open

SP Contenders : Cabrera (28), Martis (21), Hill (27), Zimmermann (22), Chacin (27), Martin (25)

RP Mock (25)
RP Shell (25)
RP Hinckley (26)
RP Open
RP Open
SU Rivera (30)
CL Hanrahan (26)

RP Contenders: Estrada (24), Young (22), Chico (25), Martin (25), Ledezma (27)

just for a view of just how young this team is after shedding all that dead weight.

Posted by: MrMadison | January 8, 2009 8:17 PM | Report abuse

This team, as it now stands, will be historically bad. I'm talking 45-and-117, if they get a few breaks. A combination of has-beens and never-was's. Lerners/Kasten/Jimbo ought to be ashamed. Kick the bums out with the rest of the Bush leaguers. This is a Double-A product at best. I am predicting 135 starts for Willie Harris, bless his hustling heart. If Boz can see the bright side of this distaster...

Posted by: jdschulz50 | January 8, 2009 8:19 PM | Report abuse

oops, posted it twice. sorry.

anyhow, it looks to me like Dunn wants 4 or 5 years, and the Nats don't want him for that long.

I'd be looking at 2-3 years tops for Dunn, honestly.

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

This team, as it now stands, will be historically bad. I'm talking 45-and-117, if they get a few breaks. A combination of has-beens and never-was's. Lerners/Kasten/Jimbo ought to be ashamed. Kick the bums out with the rest of the Bush leaguers. This is a Double-A product at best. I am predicting 135 starts for Willie Harris, bless his hustling heart. If Boz can see the bright side of this distaster...

Posted by: jdschulz50 | January 8, 2009 8:19 PM

I don't think you really know anything about half the players I've listed on the roster.

and that scares you. it's alright though.

Posted by: MrMadison | January 8, 2009 8:22 PM | Report abuse

Young does not necessarily mean good, it just means young. It also means little veterans with the experience to lead by example, which was an identified problem last year.

This lineup and pitching staff sucks. Exactly when do the Lerners intend to make an effort at fielding a real major league squad? Because it's not as if there are "prospects" at the upper levels who are beating down the doors...

Posted by: CoverageisLacking | January 8, 2009 8:23 PM | Report abuse

and no, the team i've listed is not "historically bad".

it's just young. and it isn't a team that needs as drastic an overhaul as people are espousing.

it needs 1 or 2 veteran pitchers and a big bat.

Posted by: MrMadison | January 8, 2009 8:23 PM | Report abuse

Looking at the market, I cannot see how Dunn gets more than 3 years and I agree it shouldn't be the Nats who give him that length of contract. I think 3 years, max, is perfectly reasonable. I was never as fond of Hudson, I'd rather play the kids and find out what we have there. My biggest concern is pitching. I'd still like us to get an upgrade there. It's too bad they won't try for Lowe because I doubt we can get anyone as good through trade, without giving up too much of our minor league talent. I find it hard to believe we'll be historically bad, even with the current roster though. A return to health almost guarantees a better record than last year. 90 losses could very well be in our future though and it's hard to get excited about that.

Posted by: grforbes | January 8, 2009 8:32 PM | Report abuse

people are just going to have to come to terms with the fact that the Nationals are not going to operate like the Redskins do.

we're not going to sign every "name" free agent under the sun and totally overhaul our team every season.

we fans will just have to fine some way to deal with it. if it means cancelling season ticket plans, then fine. do what you need to.

you know?

I'm just not really getting super-hyped about free agents from here on out. I'm focusing on what we have.

Posted by: MrMadison | January 8, 2009 8:33 PM | Report abuse

Why are they going to bother to open the gates at Nats Park next season? JimBow...you gotta lot of 'splainin' to do.

Posted by: leetee1955 | January 8, 2009 8:38 PM | Report abuse

MrMadison, how can you get excited about what we have... what we have is a 102 loss team returning essentially in tact-

Posted by: S2DU | January 8, 2009 8:39 PM | Report abuse

And yet another re-post...

MrM: Yup, in fact Belliard is currently the oldest player on the roster (will turn 34 in April), followed by Nieves & Rivera (both turned 31 in 2008). This team is by-an-large a bunch of puppies, looking for an older dog to 'show them the ropes' on the field & on the mound.

That's a big part of why I've been pushing for a player like Derek Lowe since November - for his experience & ability to talk to the other pitchers about winning with less than their best stuff (Bergmann, anyone?).

Winning came easily to most of these guys when they were younger, because they were better athletically. When they rise to the ML-level, pure talent sometimes isn't enough.

Posted by: BinM | January 8, 2009 7:57 PM

Posted by: BinM | January 8, 2009 8:39 PM | Report abuse

Anyone remember why we aren't making a move for Sheets? Too expensive? Too Fragile? He made 12MM last year. Is that too much for him? Seems like he could be a draw at the gate...

Posted by: CajunD | January 8, 2009 8:42 PM | Report abuse

This stance on Hudson and Dunn reinforces my opinion that the team's "pursuit" of Mark Teixera was just so-much "get-the-fans-off-our-backs" PR eyewash. Fire JimBow,,,NOW!

Posted by: leetee1955 | January 8, 2009 8:42 PM | Report abuse

I'm trying to find a reason not to be angry. I enjoy watching baseball as much as anyone, and I spent plenty of money going to Nats' games last summer; I undoubtedly will this summer. Why isn't Lerner putting that money more heavily into the major league product? Apparently, the Lerners are doing well enough financially to have offered Teixeria a large amount of money. Why can't they spend money for some other players who would in fact make the team competitive without sacrificing the future? I'd love to hear a sound explanation.

Posted by: GoNats21 | January 8, 2009 8:47 PM | Report abuse

I still think that the Nationals FO needs to remain 'in touch' with the FA market. If a deal with another team collapses for a previously targeted player they should have been serious about (i.e. Lowe, Hudson, maybe Dunn or Abreu), that's when the FO needs to have an above-published value counter-offer ready to put on the table.

Get 'em straight up, or get 'em on the rebound - If the FO wants fans at the stadium, just get 'em.

Posted by: BinM | January 8, 2009 8:55 PM | Report abuse

This really is not the worst news in the world. We don't want to get stuck with Dunn for four years, ditto Hudson.

This will become the worst news in the world, if we don't add some prospects to play the positions where we are lacking, even if they are long shots like Barton, Gonzalez, Pie or Baily.

Posted by: soundbloke | January 8, 2009 9:04 PM | Report abuse

I say we go after Nick Swisher in a trade with the damn Yankees.

Posted by: cabraman | January 8, 2009 9:24 PM | Report abuse

This really is not the worst news in the world. We don't want to get stuck with Dunn for four years, ditto Hudson.

This will become the worst news in the world, if we don't add some prospects to play the positions where we are lacking, even if they are long shots like Barton, Gonzalez, Pie or Baily.

Posted by: soundbloke | January 8, 2009 9:04 PM

at least one person here gets it.

bravo.

Posted by: MrMadison | January 8, 2009 9:30 PM | Report abuse

my thought on this is..

Dunn wants something like 5 years @ 15m per.

but NOBODY on the market is willing to pay that(and Dunn isn't worth that, imo), and the Nats don't want to be the ones to give him that contract.

at most the Nats probably want him for 3 years.

I'm thinking the Nats walked away, and they are waiting to see if Dunn drops his demands when nobody is willing to pay him 5 years at 15m.

realistically we're still the only real suitor for Dunn. the Dodgers want Manny, and the Cubs got Bradley. and nobody else wants or needs Dunn.

Posted by: MrMadison | January 8, 2009 9:35 PM | Report abuse

Two, Mr. Madison, two.

Posted by: Section506 | January 8, 2009 9:38 PM | Report abuse

If that's the case, and he backs down , I'll risk the lynching on this site and give the Lerners a hand.

I'm not holding my breath though. I'm worried that the excuses are starting and we get nothing though.

Posted by: soundbloke | January 8, 2009 9:40 PM | Report abuse

Kudos to MrMadison for including JD Martin as a dark horse rotation candidate. I think he has a real chance.

Posted by: sbiel2 | January 8, 2009 9:45 PM | Report abuse

Alright people, lets have a little sanity here. 29 other teams have also found Dunn and Hudson's contract demands to be excessive so far. From the very beginning of the offseason (and in fact the beginning of The Plan) the Nats said they would develop the team through trade not free agency. They made an exception to pursue Teixeira and said it was an exception. Why is everyone now acting disappointed that the Nats have said they will not pay what is being demanded for those players?

I wanted Dunn and Hudson too, but there was never any entitlement or foregone conclusion to that desire.

More importantly, what I'm reading is that the Nationals said they would not pay above market prices, not that they would not acquire additional players.

I read today's news as progress. Progress because after making a spirited effort to leverage free agency, the team has come to the conclusion that the players will not sign with the Nats AND that they should therefore pursue the only other avenue (trades) instead of continuing to sit by the phone and wait.

Posted by: natbisquit | January 8, 2009 9:57 PM | Report abuse

Well, they won't be getting Rocco Baldelli
http://tinyurl.com/77oc2s

Posted by: CEvansJr | January 8, 2009 9:57 PM | Report abuse

Good-no Dunn, no Hudson, no other free agents suits me fine. (would have wanted Texiera, but we all knew that wasn't going to happen.)This is not the same team that the Nats fielded last year, not by a long shot, assuming, of course they can avoid injury. I see a lot of reasons to be optimistic. The team should develop this year and we should see the emergence of its potential.
The negativism gets tiring. Last year the Nats (Bowden) were this and that for not getting A. Jones who was terrible, or Rowand who was simply so-so. A FA for FAs sake makes no sense in the short or the long run.
A sound trade makes some sense if we can get a good young first baseman who is solid defensively. And the Nats, contrary to what some have said, have pieces to trade.
Jeeves

Posted by: jcampbell1 | January 8, 2009 9:58 PM | Report abuse

Good roster summary MrMad. You can float a battleship through the holes in our pitching. Another year of hyping Shawn Hill is coming.

What, if anything, is Mighty Austin worth on the trading block? Can we get a decent middle reliever in return?

Posted by: howjensen | January 8, 2009 10:04 PM | Report abuse

While I understand wanting to put "names" on the field instead of nobodies, to sign a player to a contract that is unreasonable just to appease fans is ridiculous; as one poster pointed out, look at the Redskins. Better yet, look at Kearns; how many of us now think he's what he is paid, and it is easy for someone sitting in their chair to say Lerner should spend 10-15 MILLION a year on a plyer who isn't worth it because it isn't their money. It is thinking like that which has led to the current spate of unreasonable contracts and salaries some marginal players get. I'd rather take fliers with players who rehabbing from injuries or who have had off years then sign another clunker who just eats salary and perfoms slighly better then the guy who we had pencilled in at the spot. Don't be mad at Stan, Bowden or Lerner; be mad at MLB for letting them rip the team to shreds under their watch. There is no quick fix here, no light at the end of the tunnel - just a long journey back to a responsible franchise and that road is not paved by ridiculous contracts to players no one else seems to want.

Posted by: SCNatsFan | January 8, 2009 10:04 PM | Report abuse

While the line-up looks a lot like the end of last year, the end of last year was a lot better than the playing with injury and show cased vets for trade crew that played in the first half. Runs per game:

Pre Allstar break - 350/96 - 3.65
Post Allstar break- 291/65 - 4.48
League avg season - 775/162 -4.53

With 4 key starters 24 or younger, you can expect they'll improve. While you cannot count on Nick to be healthy the whole year, he is a top tier offensive force when healthy (remember the OPS from 2006 was near the top of the NL). Even without a full season from Nick, this offense may be close to league average, and might even beat it with a breakout year from Lastings, Elijah, or FotF.

The pitching staff is more a worry to me than the team in the field. When you just throw a bunch of untested pitchers out there along with erratic ones like Cabrera you need to be prepared for some ugly games. But even Glavine / Smoltz / Avery went through ugly times. Zimmermann and Balester probably will not develop into aces, but they are regarded as having #2 or #3 starter stuff. Lannan will likely drop back a bit, but junk throwing lefties can have success. Until he stops beating his projections, I'm thinking he is a major league starter.

So, enjoy a few big scoring games, and hope we emerge with 4 young internal starters by the end of the year.

Posted by: jca-CrystalCity | January 8, 2009 10:05 PM | Report abuse

MrMad is right. While this team might avoid 100 losses if it can stay relatively healthy -- and that's a huge "if" -- there's no reason to expect a lot of improvement. The Lerners seem to have decided only one free-agent was worth making an actual competitive, free-agent offer. So, we're in the same plastic dinghy we were in last year -- still searching for even a paddle.

Posted by: fischy | January 8, 2009 10:07 PM | Report abuse

Oh, hey, it's cool, though, because we had one bad season, so we're out of the wilderness now! Spend on free agents, rar, rar, rar! Our draftees have had one year to develop, we should have a winning record!

Posted by: Section506 | January 8, 2009 10:10 PM | Report abuse

Let's not forget that this team is better than last year to begin with. Also they don't have to be that healthy to be healthier either. We would need a few injuries to get to Langerhans or Orr. So that's a plus.

Posted by: soundbloke | January 8, 2009 10:12 PM | Report abuse

Snark-tastic 506!

Posted by: soundbloke | January 8, 2009 10:14 PM | Report abuse

506--just one bad season? Can I have some of what you're smoking that turns a 90-loss season into a good one?

This team is not moving forward, at any level. It is mired in a death spiral that gets worse and worse, for as long as the Lerners continue this approach. Attendance will continue to drop, leading to lower revenues, leading to further cries of poverty and professed inability to pay for top talent. Do you remember Zimmerman's comments towards the end of this season? What are the Lerners doing to encourage him to want to stay here long-term?

Posted by: CoverageisLacking | January 8, 2009 10:42 PM | Report abuse

For all the farting and fuming we do in here, "they MUST do this, they have to do that," I don't believe the FO gives a phlying philadelphia puck what we think.

Posted by: CEvansJr | January 8, 2009 10:56 PM | Report abuse

The farm system is streets ahead of where it was when the Lerners took over. Sure we didn't replicate the success of last year but, that was artificially inflated by by how bad things were before. Last season was also anomalous, we could play that season ten times over and never be that bad again.

Now, I don't like Bowden because I think he was the right man for the pre-Lerner Nat's but doesn't have the eye for youth that is need now. But despite the flaws this team is slowly moving forward. Think back two years. Our biggest hope was that Nook Logan would turn into a centre fielder. Now, it's Lastings Milledge.

Posted by: soundbloke | January 8, 2009 11:00 PM | Report abuse

Perhaps next year I'll draw a line at paying $35 per game to park and $50 a ticket to watch a team lose over 100 games.

I've been a full season ticket holder since day 1, I renewed for '09 within a week of getting the invoice. And I'm really angry about this.

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

Well, maybe we can all agree to hope they don't loose it.

They have built a respectable farm system within only two years.

Are we seriously handing our tickets over because we refused to overpay for two mediocre free agents?

Not that I don't expect to be hoisted by my own petard when they don't make a good trade, but this isn't over yet. Put the pitch forks away for a bit.

Posted by: soundbloke | January 8, 2009 11:28 PM | Report abuse

There have four straight years of declining won-lost percentage. This happens because major league talent eroded, minor league talent was nonexistant, the field management emphasis shifted from win every game to teach young players, and player acquisition emphasis went from current capabilities to future potential. These changes were not budget driven nor were they philosophically flawed. However, the return on investment is slower to develop. It sucks being patient but the Nats may have to reach .500 in 2009 before quality free agents are willing to sign market deals for 2010.

Also, while Manny Acta appears to be a very special person, a knowledgeable baseball man, and a fine manager, it is not clear to me that he can make the transition to the next phase. Perhaps that is why Riggleman is on staff. If the team starts of the spring slow again, Riggleman may be managing by June. Someone needs to squeeze more production out of the 25 man roster. Its hard for me to believe that a Frank Robinson managed team would have ever lost 101 games. Call Church a sissy, cry if you have to, bench your best player in the first week of the season for not running out a ground out, call out your players in the media, talk an umpire into reversing a call, ... Find a way to get more out of your players and yourself. Acta could be right that getting mad won't deliver a win, but remaining calm won't motivate your players either. And going with youth does not have to go hand in hand with calm and patient field manaagement.


Posted by: natbisquit | January 8, 2009 11:32 PM | Report abuse

I'm not mad. Nats won't spend on good players, and I won't spend on the Nats.

They're dead to me.

Posted by: gbooksdc | January 8, 2009 11:35 PM | Report abuse

"Maybe the Lerner's & "the Danny" should swap teams for 3 years - That could be interesting!

Posted by: BinM | January 8, 2009 7:11 PM"

Be careful what you ask for. Just heard on the evening news that Snyder is laying off an unnamed number of Redskins staff due to the economy. "No players yet" they said. Ha!

Posted by: nunof1 | January 8, 2009 11:40 PM | Report abuse

While I still think the Lerners (who make Clark Griffith look good) are cheap and greedy, they are right not to overpay for Dunn and Hudson.

My concern comes later. Are we going to be able to keep the talent we do develop from the minors? So far the Lerners haven't given much confidence on that area.

Posted by: CountDemoney | January 8, 2009 11:51 PM | Report abuse

I don't get all the naysayers leaving these comments. I'm just as upset as you guys, but c'mon, 115 losses this season?

The Nationals, had they stayed healthy in 2008, would have been 73-88 or thereabouts, a number that Barry Svurluga (sp?) predicted right here in the final week of spring training. I agreed with that number. If that same team is returning, then 73 wins stands as a resonable number.

If Nick stays healthy, he hits 20 homers and drives in 90. If Belliard stayed healthy, he hits 18 homers and drives in 70. Ryan Zimmerman would have hit 23 homers and drove in 90. If Elijah Dukes stayed healthy, he would have hit 26 homers and drove in 90. If Lastings Milledge stayed healthy, he hits close to 20 homers and drives in 75 (these are based on what they did in the games they played expanded to a full season. And no, it's too late at night to dig into the stats to find exact numbers, but they are very close).

Add Scott Olsen and Josh Willingham and you've probably gotten up to 76 wins or so.

76-86 is a great jump from last year's 69-102. In addition, you have Jordan Zimmermann ready to join the rotation sometime next year plus we'll without question draft Steven Strasburg (and sign him almost immediately) who will probably be in the rotation by September.

John Lannan, Scott Olsen, Daniel Cabrera (who I'm iffy about), Zimmermann and Strasburg to close the season? I'll take it. Next year, Cabrera is gone and Ross Detwiler or Jack McGeary or another young buck will take that spot.

Again, I expected more from the team in terms of free agent signings this winter, but I also see what they see, that a healthy team + Willingham and Olsen + someone they'll undoubtedly get in a trade equals a not so bad team and a marked improvement over the past three seasons.

At least that's how I see it.

Posted by: rushfari | January 9, 2009 12:11 AM | Report abuse

No way this club performs as badly as last season. Injuries killed the club in 08 and I just don't see that happening again to the extent it did last year. One thing they did do was overhaul the training/medical staff. Hopefully (said with tounge in cheek) a reoccurance of the disastrous happenings won't be repeated. If they are, I suggest a leap from the Washington Monument.

Posted by: cokedispatch | January 9, 2009 12:46 AM | Report abuse

This team is not moving forward, at any level.

Posted by: CoverageisLacking | January 8, 2009 10:42 PM

man, the Coverage really IS Lacking.

especially if people believe this.

Posted by: MrMadison | January 9, 2009 1:02 AM | Report abuse

OK, JMad, I'll take your bait. How is the club moving forward? Is it that great 2007 draft that has led to Top 100 prospects lists that don't include any Nats "prospects" on them? Or is it not signing the guy who actually would have been on those lists this year?

Every other team is doing what the Nats are doing, but those other teams are doing things on other fronts too that the Nats aren't doing, and they also started way ahead of the Nats. So the Nats need to be doing it much better than others, and they aren't. How in your view is this franchise progressing? What do you see them doing to build a championship team?

Based on the comments that he's made, do you really think Zimmerman is going to want to sign a long-term contract here the way things are going? What steps have the Nats taken that you believe should make him want to play here when he has a choice? If he doesn't, will that be a step forward because the Nats will get compensation picks to build for their 2018 drive at respectability?

Posted by: CoverageisLacking | January 9, 2009 1:13 AM | Report abuse

all of you are stupid. we would not have made the playoffs with tex, we will not make them with dunn and hudson. let the young players develop and when the time is right sign the free agent star. how are none of you getting this by now? if you think one year and one player will make the difference just become yankee fans right now because thats the only way you will ever enjoy baseball. im so sick of all the complaining and the talk of cheapness and blah blah blah mark texeiria will never be a hall of famer and giving him 180 million is INSANE. give the nucleus time to grow into itself. win 83 games. then trade a surplus of young pitching prospects for a star. then sign the big free agent. i assure you this is how stan and "jimbo" think. give it time and enjoy the meanwhile. any team can win on any night.

Posted by: formerlylove | January 9, 2009 2:22 AM | Report abuse

Good summary, SCNatsFan. Formerlylove, all of us can't be that stupid, especially considering many of the posts just before yours agree with much of what you said.
I couldn't resist.
Jeeves

Posted by: jcampbell1 | January 9, 2009 6:45 AM | Report abuse

Put me on the list as well as one who will be willing to let the season play out with the hand we are dealt. I am thankful that I do not have to look forward to the kind of free agents that filled the club's stocking last winter: Lo Duca, Mackowiac and Estrada. I am also grateful to not have to watch Felipe Lopez go through the motions at second. This team is already better than last year's squad just through the process of subtraction. The removal of Lenny Harris and a few other coaches has to be good, right? If the injury rate just returns to the league norm we will have a better season.

Posted by: driley | January 9, 2009 7:43 AM | Report abuse

This ridiculousness of four straight years of declining winning percentage keeps popping up.

2005 81-81
2006 71-91
2007 73-89
2008 59-102

Consider that '06 owes quite a few of those wins to Alfonso Soriano alone and the 2007 team can be considered a real improvement on the 2006 team.

I can't help you if you just want to be negative, but at least be accurate.

And also: anyone who spends $50 a seat per game on something that they will only enjoy if a specific set of circumstances occurs is a fool. Spend your money in a wiser method, because you aren't going to find satisfaction here this year OR next year.

Posted by: Section506 | January 9, 2009 7:58 AM | Report abuse

It's fair to disagree with the Lerners' baseball decisionmaking. It's not fair to compare them to the racist Clark Griffith, who (a) wouldn't sign nonwhite players, (b) refused to even set up a farm system for decades, and (c) shipped the team to Minnesota. Let's keep some perspective here.

Also, I'm amused by the screaming to sign expensive, big name free agents to the Nats, exactly the same strategy that Dan Snyder is continually excoriated for. I realize, apples v. oranges, but it's still funny.

Posted by: TomServo | January 9, 2009 8:25 AM | Report abuse

Looking for a better firstbaseman? Idecided to start my search in the NL West: SF has Ishakawa (LH), Sandoval (SH), and Bowder (LH) on their depth chart. They are also rumored to be bringing Aurilla back so they definately have some surplus at the position. The D'Backs have Connor Jackson (RH), Tracy (LH), and Clark (SH) on their roster. The Rockies have Helton (LH), Koshansky (LH), Atkins (RH), and Baker (RH) listed at 1B. The Dodgers only legitimate 1B listed appears to be Loney (LH). The Padres of course have Adrian Gonzalez (LH) but Kouzmanoff (RH), and possibly Headley (SH) could play 1B as well.

Gonzalez, Loney, and Jackson are hands down the best of those players and would all cost a significant price from the Nats, but there are some potential bargains in the group as well. Koshansky is a young LH power hitter blocked by Helton and Atkins. Atkins is potentially available too but the Rockies may be asking too much for him. Tracy seems to have developed into a platoon player but would still be an upgrade over current Plan-B (Belliard, Young, ...). Don't know if the Giants would part with Ishakawa or Sandoval (sho also plays catcher) but if they sign Manny and make the decision to go for it, they might very well be interested in another veteran or two for the run at the division.

Just one division's worth of possibilities. But if there is a point here I guess it is that the opportunities to improve through trade are still out there.

Posted by: natbisquit | January 9, 2009 8:27 AM | Report abuse

wins and losses aside this team will play better this year. no doubt about it. i have to assume we are getting top 3 draft pick next year though.

manny acta is not the problem.

Posted by: longterm | January 9, 2009 8:34 AM | Report abuse

hey, baseball america gives a little love to justin maxwell!

Posted by: longterm | January 9, 2009 8:37 AM | Report abuse

'Nats draw the line' on signings should result in fans drawing the line on their own expenditures too.

Pretty lame way to get your fanbase geared towards this season. A fan wants to be excited about their team - even knowing they're a couple years away from truly competing. This offseason has really frustrating. At least last year I could check out the stadium-cam to look forward to the upcoming season.

Posted by: Bazz | January 9, 2009 8:39 AM | Report abuse

I guess that 4 years of declining winning percentage crack was aimed at me. I don't expect people to follow all my comments and tie them together, so I'll simply clarify. My overall message as a contributor here has been one of positive support for the direction of the team. The specific entry you reference contends that the path taken is neither flawed, nor motivated by cheapness. I understand how you interpreted it as negative though. Especially since I went on to question the on field managment style of Manny.

Still, I did not mean to add voice to the doom and gloom -- simply explain how the one step back before two steps forward is being applied. I don't see it as a negative that the player acquisition emphsis has gone from current capabilities to future potential. But it does help explain why the overall direction has been to lose more games.

(And yes I stand corrected - there was s 2 game uptick in 2007 - but please lay that out on a 4 year graph and see how that record looks. Its a steady decline.)

Posted by: natbisquit | January 9, 2009 8:40 AM | Report abuse

Here's what I'm thinking... wait - no one cares what I think. The Nats have a beat writer at a major US paper. Dunn and Hudson won't take my call.

CHICO!

How much are Dunn and Hudson expecting from the market? From your article, I don't know if the Lerners are cheap, if Teixeira was a smokescreen, or if Dunn is asking for the moon....

Posted by: comish4lif | January 9, 2009 8:45 AM | Report abuse

"And also: anyone who spends $50 a seat per game on something that they will only enjoy if a specific set of circumstances occurs is a fool. Spend your money in a wiser method, because you aren't going to find satisfaction here this year OR next year.
Posted by: Section506"

The 'specific set of circumstances' I am asking for is a pretty low bar -- a team that is major league quality enough to provide a competitive game most nights you go to the stadium. This is hardly a 'specific set of circumstances' -- its a plea for reasonableness. The Nats management to me has two sets of standards -- one for the money it charges its customers, and another for the money it lays out for major league players. No one is suggesting that they become the Yankees. I am suggesting that the current team is a laughing stock at the major league level, and 'we're not spending any money on players' is not acceptable given the current major league roster.

Last year the number of games that were 7-0, 10-1, in the third inning was unacceptable. All I am saying is that they need to provide you with good entertainment for this top dollar they are charging. In 2008 they did not. And, despite a lot of grandstanding and promises, they have done precious little to improve the on-the-field product this upcoming season if they do not sign some quality ballplayers.

I also note that the whole 'we're going after free agents' and alledged pursuit of Tex happened while season ticket payments were pending. Now that the due date has come and gone, its back to the same old song and dance. Coincidence?

Posted by: raymitten | January 9, 2009 8:53 AM | Report abuse

Reading between the lines, I would guess asking for the moon. But nobody cares what I think either.

On another note, I just stumbled on this item about how the Nationals Dream Foundation is partnering with Rebuilding Together of Washington, DC to refurbish the home of a needy SE family. Pretty cool to see how donations to the foundation are being put to work.

http://masnsports.com/2009/01/washington-nationals-dream-fou.html

Posted by: natsfan1a1 | January 9, 2009 8:57 AM | Report abuse

Intervening post alert. I was referencing the one from the comish.

Posted by: natsfan1a1 | January 9, 2009 8:58 AM | Report abuse

For all those who continue to drink the Kool-Aid, no one believes this team with or without Tex, Dunn, Hudson, etc.etc, would be a 90+ winner, however as a 4 year STH all one would expect is a competitive major league product to watch.

Here is the truth, the trade logic to improve is flawed. Why? They have nothing worth trading. The draft logic and development process is sound expect its going to be a 10 year process and thats going to leave that stadium over on S. Cap a sea of empty blue seats for many years to come. Don't want to believe that well I just heard that the IRS plans to ask Congress to cancel April 15th this year, RIGHT!

Posted by: TippyCanoe | January 9, 2009 9:11 AM | Report abuse

Some of the posters have touched on this issue. The Nats have apparently focused on developing their minor league system . To that end they supposedly have spent money on building a first rate scouting staff. That is all good but from what I read this has not translated into any great prospects. It is my understanding that as per BA we have no prospect in the top 100. If we were at least average we should have at least three.

I beginning to believe that we have wasted three years. I hoping our prospects had off years and they will rebound this year. If not we are in worse shape than we all believed. The pepole of DC must feel like they have been had.

Posted by: mjames0 | January 9, 2009 9:37 AM | Report abuse

"Here is the truth, the trade logic to improve is flawed. Why? They have nothing worth trading."

Jimbo certainly has his work cut out for him. Though he doesn't have a good track record of maximizing returns for players when their stock is high (Soriano, Redding, NJ, D.Young, Guzman). In the last 3 cases, he backed off from trading, offering deals instead.

Should we be concerned that Kasten is rarely mentioned anymore? Even with Tex, it was either Lerner or Bowden doing the woo-ing. Not exactly putting the best foot forward, IMO.

Posted by: jctichen | January 9, 2009 9:43 AM | Report abuse

Has it dawned on anyone here that Chico's post title is the story here?

"Nats Draw Line With Dunn, Hudson."

As has been pointed out a number of times in this thread, Dunn and Hudson have no other offers that meet or exceed what Bradley/Burrell took this week. That Nats are simply telling those players and their agent (Hudson & Dunn have the same one I believe), via Mr. Harlan, that the team does not intend to exceed those numbers either. (Though note that Chico's source is external: "The demands of those players," one source said, referencing not only Dunn and Hudson, but also free agent pitcher Randy Wolf, "have THEM [the Nats] concentrating more on trades now." (emphasis added)

If true, Bravo.

If we get Dunn and/or Hudson two things will be true:

1. Barring a miracle, we will not make the playoffs in '09; and

2. We will be significantly better and more entertaining in '09.

If we get neither Dunn nor Hudson two things will be true:

1. Barring a miracle, we will not make the playoffs in '09; and

2. We will be significantly better and more entertaining in '09.

Why? Because Olson and Willingham are upgrades over their replacement players and it is reasonable to predict that the Nats injury situation will not be as hideous as it was in '08.

Exhale and carry on. Pitchers & Catchers report in 36 days.

Posted by: WebberDC | January 9, 2009 9:51 AM | Report abuse

"It is my understanding that as per BA we have no prospect in the top 100. If we were at least average we should have at least three."

I think that this statistic may be skewed by the fact that the Nats have rushed their prospects to the parent club whereas other organizations that have a surplus of major league talent can afford to have their farmhands ripen for an extra year or so in the minors. I am not justifying the fact that we do not currently have top 100 players, rather I am trying to explain one aspect of it.

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

No matter how bad it may appear to be, the grass will be green at Nationals Park this season. The smell of baseball will be in the air. Now what could be better than a cold brew and a dog, warm sunshine and crack of the bat on a summers day. I remember those 33 years of no playing ball in DC. So, no matter how bad it is, we're one of the select cities in America that will host 81 national pasttime games. For that, be thankful. Remember, Ladson said this team last season could win 90 games if they could remain healthy. Now, I'm not predicting 90 wins, but I really don't think 80 is unthinkable if they can put the starting 8 out there 75% of the time. You can call me crazy, I don't care. I'm just a fan all in for the plan. Now, everybody quit complaining so darn much, there is a lot to be thankful for.

Posted by: cokedispatch | January 9, 2009 9:58 AM | Report abuse

On the Baseball America rankings:

1. I don't believe the rankings for this year are out yet, just rankings per club.

2. On last year's rankings, the Nats had 3 entrants.

3. If the team does in fact have the best scouts in the biz, wouldn't one presume that those scouts know better than the folks at Baseball America who are the best prospects? This is circular logic, I grant you. But you can't use one outsider's assessment to disprove a statement that the insiders are the smartest.

On the new post:

1. There is one.

Posted by: Scooter_ | January 9, 2009 10:00 AM | Report abuse

It is interesting to go back and read a Boswell column from 2 years ago, when Kasten said that the '07 Nats were then "way ahead" of the Braves at the big-league level when he took the reins in Atlanta. Here is the link:

http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2007/02/12/AR2007021201463.html

Why did Kasten say that the Nats were way ahead? Because of the "core" of players that the Nats already had in the fold. And who were those guys, you might ask: Ryan Zimmerman, Chad Cordero, Nick Johnson, John Patterson, Austin Kearns, Felipe Lopez and Brian Schneider. Enough said. At the big league level, the team is treading water, at best.

And what about at the minor league level? Yes, the Nats no longer have the worst minor league system in baseball. But their top prospects are *extremely* young, and according to most rankings, none of their top prospects are among the best in the game--which is what the Nats need in order to turn things around. Kasten said in that column that the Nats were going to go "100 mph to catch up" on the minor league level. Whether they've even tried to do that or not is debatable, but the fact is that it hasn't worked out that way.

When plans aren't working out, it's time to revisit the plan. No one is advocating signing a free agent or two because we think it will turn the Nats into a winner. People are saying that the Nats should bring in some free agents to start turning the team around the corner of respectability at the big league level, as a component of the plan. The prospects--and again, objective observers are saying that those prospects are not that spectacular--are still years away. The team simply cannot afford to wait that long.

Posted by: CoverageisLacking | January 9, 2009 10:04 AM | Report abuse

Who is contending that the Nationals do not have any prospects in Baseball America's Top 100. As far as I know, Baseball America has not released its Top 100 prospects list for 2009. As for 2008, the Nationals did indeed have prospects in the Top 100...three in fact:

27. Chris Marrero
51. Ross Detwiler
86. Colin Balester

Heck, even the 2008 midseason update to the Top 100 included three prospects, of which, only Marrero was a repeat:

34. Chris Marrero
54. Luke Montz
96. Jordan Zimmermann

And that's up from having just one prospect in the Top 100 in the preceding three seasons (2007 - Balester #95; 2006 - R.Zimmerman #15; 2005 - Hinckley #29). I think it's good to know that all of these "top prospects" are still with the organization and that the Nats have actually added a few players from these four (2005-08) lists:

Elijah Dukes
Lastings Milledge
Scott Olsen

Posted by: combedge | January 9, 2009 10:11 AM | Report abuse

No one has mentioned that the Nats have (except for Manny & RSC) a whole new coaching staff in place for '09.

That, and with a bit of luck avoiding last year's unbelievable injury streak (and we have new med staff too!)...the Nats will improve by a significant percentage.

Posted by: 1stBaseCoach | January 9, 2009 11:09 AM | Report abuse

Sign Manny, 3 years, 25 mil. People might actually show up (!) - People might even buy his jersey (!) - A National will hit more than 15 home runs (!) - The Lerners won't look cheap (!)

Posted by: Kev29 | January 9, 2009 11:09 AM | Report abuse

The Nats should at least give us a future to think about. Sign your #1 pick--don't let him go because of a $700,000 difference. Trade for youngish guys with upside--even if they make decent money. Soriano was the last big money guy the Nats traded for, he he yielded two draft picks when he signed with the Cubs, including the Nats' top prospect. So do more of that. The Nats only trade for bargain basement types (and that's not Bowden's fault). Lock up Zimmerman and other good young players long term, even if you have to overpay ("overpay" is defined by other clubs as "market value"). Sign international players--even if they can demand signing bonuses over a level the Nats want to pay (like $100,000).

So if the Nats do those kinds of things, then sure, scrimp on free agents. Maybe not scrimp quite as badly as they have been doing (last season, Lo Duca was the Nats' biggest money guy at $5 million for one year, which is a disgrace). But if the Nats will stick to their promised Plan, I can live with the games I go home from at 8:30 p.m. (after an 8 to 1 deficit in the 4th).

I don't mind dropping $150 a night, as long as I think the Nats are trying. I don't think they really are, however, because building a team takes a financial commitment. Patience alone won't do the job.

Posted by: EdDC | January 9, 2009 11:38 AM | Report abuse

I don't think anyone here is asking that the Nats behave like the Skins and go and sign all of the sexy free agents every year.

What I would like to see is active progress. If a 2 year deal to Ben Sheets would stabilize the rotation for 2-3 yrs, than sign him. If Adam Dunn would fill a need in the lineup, then sign him up. I;m not saying that adding 1 player is going to get the Nats to the playoffs, but adding a player here and another one there gets you closer to respectability - and right now, the Nats aren't respectable - they are the butt of jokes and were used by Boras to set the market for Teixeira.

The front office clearly doesn't care about the fans. If they did, they would do more to get our attention and dollars. TV ratings are low. Attendence is low. And absolutely no one tunes in to the radio broadcasts. That's why they should care. The Nats Front Office is diminishing its product.

The Nats have led us to believe that they are unable to rebuild the farm system and maintain a Major League product on the field - at the same time. They need to move off of that position.

And - I'm still a season ticket holder and intend to keep my seats. I just want to see more effort from the front office and not a decreasing payroll.

Posted by: comish4lif | January 9, 2009 11:41 AM | Report abuse

I see people worried about the pitching staff, but with Olsen, Detwiler, Lannan, Balester, McGeary, maybe Strasburg, and possibly Hill (I'll believe it when I see it) I think they have a good staff for years to come. One more top line starter would be nice, but buy that guy when he's out there, don't spend on someone who doesn't fill that hole. As for the roster, I think their middle infield is in trouble for years, to come, I'd rather them address that than anything else. One power hitter at first base or a corner OF would be nice, but I like the future of Dukes and Milledge in the OF.

nationalsreview.wordpress.com

Posted by: CharlieF | January 9, 2009 11:53 AM | Report abuse

Forget the Nationals! We have the Caps. The Lerners will never build a good team. They have picked a loser to select their talent (Bowden), have overruled the one guy who should know the business (Casten), and the Lerners are intrinsically cheap bottom-feeders. Most of my friends are not renewing their season tickets. We now have two bad owners (Snyder and Lerner) and two good ones (Leonsis and Pollin). I will not spend my money supporting bad owners any longer when I can support good ones.

Posted by: jeb3 | January 9, 2009 12:59 PM | Report abuse

"So, does a player Dunn (with notable shortcomings and one supreme asset -- his power) still have the leverage to pull of a 2007ish deal? What about a player like Hudson?"

Dunn's got a second asset: he walks a lot. In fact, he's got a career OBP of .381 to go with a .518 slug percentage and an OPS of .900. That's with an undistinguished .247 career batting average.

Compare to the vaunted Mark Texeira, whose OBP is .378, slug .541, and OPS .900. His BA, however, was .290.

And how much did the Yanks give Texeira?

Management around the league doesn't particularly like Dunn. They seem to think he's soft and not a team leader. I wouldn't know. But the numbers suggest that if your team needs a first baseman with power who gets on base even when he isn't making contact, Dunn's your guy.

Hudson, on the other hand, is certainly talented. You could probably load his contract up with incentives as long as you were willing to pay top dollar.

Again, most teams wouldn't pony up unless they had particular needs at first and second base, and had lost, oh, 102 games last season.

I'm just picking that number out of my head, of course.

Posted by: Samson151 | January 9, 2009 1:20 PM | Report abuse

Why would ANYONE still be a season ticket holder? Enjoy paying full price for your seat when 70% of the place is empty next season.

I wish Malek had gotten the team.

Posted by: S2DU | January 9, 2009 1:33 PM | Report abuse

>Sign Manny, 3 years, 25 mil. People might actually show up (!) - People might even buy his jersey (!) - A National will hit more than 15 home runs (!) - The Lerners won't look cheap (!)<

MAN-NY MAN-NY MAN-NY MAN-NY

And the children were spared the dirge of suffering with the plan.

Posted by: Brue | January 9, 2009 4:42 PM | Report abuse

I'm not going to say this team is going to contend by any means. But, if this line up stays healthy, the team is not going to lose 100+ games as everyone says. Being one the 9000 people who watch Nats games on TV (and a season ticket holder), I heard an interesting stat on a broadcast in the late summer. At that time, the Nationals were 21-14 in games where Zimmerman, Milledge and Dukes were on the active roster at the same time. Add Willingham to the mix of those three players and the team will be better than most expect.

Posted by: dutchmcalliser | January 9, 2009 6:05 PM | Report abuse

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