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Nats Lead NL East?

According to Dave Sheinin over at Baseball Insider, the Nats are having a terrific winter compared to their NL East foes. Take a look and see what you think.


By Tracee Hamilton  |  January 9, 2009; 11:11 AM ET
 
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Next: Redding Signs With Mets

Comments

Thanks for keeping us occupied, Tracee! Maybe a real topic will emerge soon; in the interim we appreciate your efforts.

Posted by: BobLHead | January 9, 2009 11:46 AM | Report abuse

Oh yea. Without reading Sheinin's article yet, I've already been feeling sorry for the Braves at least. They lost out on Peavy, then AJ Barnett, then the Furcal fiasco and now Smoltz?

My Braves fan brother says Smoltz just can't be anything but a Brave and is just sick over it.

Another high school friend's dog is names Smoltie and he's trying to decide whether to change the dog's name after 13 years or put him down.

Poor schmucks.

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

Not chasing free agents and putting the emphasis on developing the young players is fine. But how consistent is this strategy with not signing your first round draft choice last summer? If there was $180 million for Tex, then there must have been a few extra bucks to get the job done with Aaron Crow.

Posted by: bupbups | January 9, 2009 12:20 PM | Report abuse

from previously on NJ....

We Nationals fans should not be myopic and be sensitive to the Montreal legacy. I embrace the team's history, both in La Belle Provence as well as in the nation's capital. Had there been no Expos, there would be no Nationals. If you ever read Ladson's chats on nats.com, he gets lots of questions from fans north of the border who still follow the team. I just wish that JimBow hadn't been allowed to pass through customs.

Salut, Montreal!

Posted by: leetee1955 | January 9, 2009 12:20 PM | Report abuse

For that, my friend, yours is post of the day.

-----

I am of the opinion that a true fan doesn't choose his or her team, but is instead chosen by that team.

Posted by: JohninMpls | January 9, 2009 12:25 PM | Report abuse

Hopefully, Tracee, a late August morning will one day arrive when you can type that headline without a question mark.

Posted by: JohninMpls | January 9, 2009 12:26 PM | Report abuse

I loved that thought as well, JiM.

Posted by: natsfan1a1 | January 9, 2009 12:27 PM | Report abuse

On a totally unrelated note...is anybody else going to NatsFest on Jan. 25? I bought my tickets online today and had to pay a $4.00 "service charge" for a pair of ducats and $2.00 for the privilege of using my own toner and paper to print them.

Posted by: leetee1955 | January 9, 2009 12:29 PM | Report abuse

Yes, I plan to go. I also dislike the delivery charge for printing my own tix and generally avoid it during the season by buying tix for future games on my visits to Nats Park. But for this occasion, no dice.

Posted by: natsfan1a1 | January 9, 2009 12:40 PM | Report abuse

And to clarify, I liked the thought that JiM designated as post of the day. But I also liked his punctuation ponderings.

Posted by: natsfan1a1 | January 9, 2009 12:41 PM | Report abuse

It's a sad state of affairs when a C gets you second place.

Posted by: Aterio | January 9, 2009 12:43 PM | Report abuse

@natsfan1a

The way the offseason is going for this team, it may turn into NatsFestivus.

Posted by: leetee1955 | January 9, 2009 12:46 PM | Report abuse

We already have the airing of the grievances part covered, leetee. :-D

Posted by: natsfan1a1 | January 9, 2009 12:53 PM | Report abuse

So the Nats sign no one of consequence and have a better winter than the rest of the NL East? Sounds like a free lottery ticket (which hasn't been drawn yet) to me...

Posted by: Juan-John | January 9, 2009 1:17 PM | Report abuse

I think the Lerners are trying reverse psychology. They tried the hard, aggressive approach and left the bar alone. Now they are playing hard-to-get. I think it may be a better approach and given what is left in the place, it's probably more appropriate.

Posted by: Juliasdad | January 9, 2009 2:08 PM | Report abuse

The old "if they can put a man on the moon..." argument.
The problem with Crow was not that they don't have the money (talk of budgets notwithstanding), it's that the kid was not worth what his agent was insisting on, in their estimation. A miscalculation, perhaps; we'll see.


**********
If there was $180 million for Tex, then there must have been a few extra bucks to get the job done with Aaron Crow.

Posted by: bupbups | January 9, 2009 12:20 PM

Posted by: CEvansJr | January 9, 2009 2:54 PM | Report abuse

Hey Man!

Mets on verge of adding Redding
Posted by: Jon Heyman01:34 PM ET 01.09

Right-handed starting pitcher Tim Redding is on the verge of signing with the Mets. Redding is expected to receive a one-year deal for $2.25 million, plus incentives.

The Mets have been pursuing a host of pitchers and will still be looking for a frontline starter. Their top two targets for that spot remain Derek Lowe and Oliver Perez, with Randy Wolf the backup plan. The Mets also have been talking to Freddy Garcia and future Hall of Famer Pedro Martinez.

Redding did an admirable job for the Nationals last season, going 10-11 with a 4.95 ERA for the last-place club. But the team non-tendered him because it figured he could receive $3 million through arbitration.

Redding, a native of upstate New York, was also pursued by the Orioles, Rockies and a few more teams.

Posted by: jctichen | January 9, 2009 3:06 PM | Report abuse

"I am of the opinion that a true fan doesn't choose his or her team, but is instead chosen by that team."

That would explain how some who are so disenchanted wound up here!

Posted by: Section506 | January 9, 2009 3:14 PM | Report abuse

"I am of the opinion that a true fan doesn't choose his or her team, but is instead chosen by that team."

That would explain how some who are so disenchanted wound up here!

Posted by: Section506 | January 9, 2009 3:14 PM

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

Yes, it was by default after all 29 other teams took a bite and then spit them out.

Posted by: nunof1 | January 9, 2009 3:23 PM | Report abuse

Boswell is actually making a lot of sense in his responses to the first couple of questions in his chat today. Has his body been invaded by aliens?

Posted by: nunof1 | January 9, 2009 3:29 PM | Report abuse

@nunof1

Boz needs to cut down the verbiage. He only answered 10 questions during the first hour of his chat. That first answer was the blogosphere equivalent of "War and Peace."

Posted by: leetee1955 | January 9, 2009 4:05 PM | Report abuse

Bear with an old man's nostalgia, just for a moment. I watched the Expos at Jarry Park and was at the opening game at Olympic Stadium, as well as many others. I was heartbroken when Rick Monday hit a homer off Steve Rodgers when it appeared we were headed to our first World Series. The '94 strike was the ultimate blow depriving the team from its best chance at a championship. Then came 2002 and in six long months Minaya managed to lose Sizemore, Phillips, Lee, Jason Bay, and V. Guerrero receiving essentially nothing, not even a draft pick for Guerrero who became a free agent.
Maybe that's why Bowden looks so much better to me than many NJ fans. He's made mistakes, but overall has done much more good. Or maybe I'm just all bittered out.
Now I and, it appears, quite a few other former Expo fans are now Nat fans and are as devoted as those from Maryland and area.
As mjhoya so aptly put it, 'a true fan does not choose his or her team....' I am not a Toronto fan, have no particular feelings for the team. But the Nats...!
Reading the blogs on this forum, I'm quite curious as to how many of the regulars or semi-regulars were originally Expo fans. Quite a few, I imagine.
A side note-Quite a few years ago a coach took over Washington's NHL team. The team was floundering in last place. Within, I believe, two years the team had the best record in the NHL. Unfortunately that never translated to a championship. I went to a small town rural highschool with that coach. Call it six degrees of separation.
Jeeves

Posted by: jcampbell1 | January 9, 2009 4:09 PM | Report abuse

@jcampbell1

Are you from Shawville, Quebec?

Posted by: leetee1955 | January 9, 2009 4:25 PM | Report abuse

Jeeves, mjhoya12, natscan (if you're still out there), soundbloke, and others (a hedge in case I inadvertently left someone out): thank you for sharing your Expos memories and experiences with us. In my opinion this blog is made the richer by your participation.

Posted by: natsfan1a1 | January 9, 2009 4:27 PM | Report abuse

Thought the most interesting item in Boz' chat today was that he cancelled his season tickets with the Nats. Ouch!

Posted by: AshburnVA | January 9, 2009 4:41 PM | Report abuse

I have been a Expo/Nationals fan for 30 years, and as much as I have wanted to quit I can't get them out of my system. Living near Boston and with a Huge Red Sox fan should make it easy for me to quit the Nats but I'm still here reading any info about the Nats I can find. I love this team and I think the plan is working. Jim Bowden is doing a good job. Talent is flowing into this organization not away from it, like in 2002. Please be patient.

Posted by: Drew2515 | January 9, 2009 4:49 PM | Report abuse

Drew2515

So, when I read you comment I assumed it was something I had posted and forgotten about! I too live in Boston, and married a Sox fan (unbearably smug aren't they?) and you just can't quit this team. There is so much more talent here than in the last 6 years. This team will come around although, I would like a more youth minded GM at the helm.

I was also about to ask Jeeves if he was from Lachine outside Montreal?

Posted by: soundbloke | January 9, 2009 6:06 PM | Report abuse

Thanks natsfan1a1, on behalf of former Expo fans (and present Nats fans)
leetee-actually Bristol Quebec, but went to Shawville High School. And what's the connection?
And soundbloke-went to school (McGill)in Montreal. Taught school in Rosemere and Mont St Hilaire.
Small world, huh!
Oh, and I have a friend on Prince Edward Island who is a Boston fan. Smug is too gentle a word.
Jeeves

Posted by: jcampbell1 | January 9, 2009 6:31 PM | Report abuse

Not a true Expo fan (Boston, you know), but took an interest when Dawson came up and Bill Lee was traded for Stan Papi. Loved the outfielders, admired the 1994 team, and was amazed at the way they maintained the player development even when the home growns got too expensive.

I say replace Screech with Youppi!, raise a 1994 World Champs banner, and dare Selig to make us take it down. And break out the unis when we visit Toronto or have a throw back jersey game in NY.

Posted by: jca-CrystalCity | January 9, 2009 6:54 PM | Report abuse

@jcanmpbell1

Did you attend school with both Bryan and Terry Murray, or just Bryan?

Posted by: leetee1955 | January 9, 2009 7:05 PM | Report abuse

I say replace Screech with Youppi!, raise a 1994 World Champs banner, and dare Selig to make us take it down. And break out the unis when we visit Toronto or have a throw back jersey game in NY.

Posted by: jca-CrystalCity | January 9, 2009 6:54 PM
-------------

Absolutely! Youppi for Screech, in a heartbeat. For a visit to "our friends in the Great White North" (Toronto), break out the Expo unis', tri-color caps (w/the upside-down W) included.

Let's face it, this franchise is a hybrid in terms of origin/location/league. Why not embrace all of it; Mutts are lovable, aren't they?

Posted by: BinM | January 9, 2009 7:39 PM | Report abuse

I'd even throw in Clint as a PTBNL in the Ypuppi! trade.

Posted by: BinM | January 9, 2009 7:41 PM | Report abuse

FWIW, my tickets to the NatsFest arrived in the mail today.

Because I had them mailed to me, they did not cost me any money at all. No printing charge, no shipping.

So now I get to go to Nats Park in the middle of January to see whatever players might be on the team by then. I am shivering with anticipation.

Posted by: shepdave2003 | January 9, 2009 8:10 PM | Report abuse

leetee-Just Bryan. Terry was quite a bit younger.
Jeeves

Posted by: jcampbell1 | January 9, 2009 8:35 PM | Report abuse

And I have a Rusty Staub bobblehead or in respect to this forum, a BobLHead.
Jeeves

Posted by: jcampbell1 | January 9, 2009 8:56 PM | Report abuse

Jeeves: L'Grande Orange - I'm envious.

Posted by: BinM | January 9, 2009 9:21 PM | Report abuse

Heck of a lot of Expos fans transferred their affections. I've been following the Nats daily from day 1 and watch every game. I'll also make a trip to Washington in July/August to see whatever games I can. So whereas a lot of people don't think the Expos legacy is something that has to be preserved, I suspect there will be a distinctly Canadian fanbase for a long time.

Posted by: KilgoreQTrout | January 9, 2009 9:28 PM | Report abuse

Wasn't Chad supposed to pitch for teams yesterday? Any word on how that went? Chico? Tracee? Dave? Bueller?

Posted by: erocks33 | January 10, 2009 9:08 AM | Report abuse

Put me in the "embrace the Expos" camp. Their history should not die. I say that particularly because the chances of Montreal ever getting another MLB team are rather slim (Pardon, mes amis Quebecois). As others have stated, the annual Canada Day throwback jerseys are an inspired idea.

The Nats have had the off season I expected them to have. They've made one good trade to pick up a couple of helpful pieces - Willingham and Olsen. They've signed a reclamation project - Cabrera - and may get a few more. They haven't overspent on free agents, which would have warped their salary structure. The last point is particularly important for the long term health of the franchise. As they look to sign the Zimmerman(n)s, Milledge, Dukes, etc. to long term contracts when they (hopefully) develop into stars in the next couple of years, negotiations would become more difficult with a bad Dunn or Hudson contract for them to point to.

I'm not optimistic for a great team this year, but 70-75 wins is feasible. Warping the salary structure to get to 80 wins doesn't interest me.

#4

Posted by: db423 | January 10, 2009 9:52 AM | Report abuse

Was listening this morning to Ed Randalls talking baseball on XM. He had Leo Mazzone on and a caller asked about Daniel Cabrera, whom he saw as pitching coach while with the Orioles. He said that before the Nats signed him, Stan Kasten called him to ask about Cabrera. He told Stan they should absolutely sign him. Also, he said the Orioles last year tried to make him a sinker ball pitcher and he advised Stan that the Nationals should reverse that trend and make him a power pitcher, who has the capability of throwing 96 or 97 mph. He also said that Cabrera never has played any other position other than pitcher, and has only been pitching since he was 16. Mazzone says that while he is 26 years old, he is really only about 20 years old as far as baseball is concerned. So, St. Claire has a lot of work to do, but the upside is worth the investment.

Posted by: cokedispatch | January 10, 2009 10:14 AM | Report abuse

This is completely random, but has anyone heard anything about naming rights for the stadium? Just curious!

Posted by: HenryStin | January 10, 2009 10:40 AM | Report abuse

I ordered tickets for Natsfest and the luncheon last night, and I like how they tried to hide the free shipping options at the bottom of the page. With extra white space and nothing to introduce it, it would be easy to miss if you didn't scroll all the way down the page.

Posted by: psubman | January 10, 2009 10:46 AM | Report abuse

As a carryover form the Raines thread, I personally believe that Franchise records should stay with that Franchise, regardless of location. So, Senators (ver1.0) records went to Minnesota in 1961, and Senators (ver 2.0) records went to Texas in 1972. Likewise, Montreal records came to Washington in 2005.

It doesn't stop the fans & the present club from remembering and embracing the history from any of these clubs, or individual players from years past who played in Washington. Walter Johnson, Mickey Vernon, Frank Howard, Josh Gibson, and many others have left their mark on the game in D.C., even though they were with teams that no longer play here.

My point is, we (as fans) should adopt the current Franchise's (Montreal/D.C.) history and records, while remembering those who have gone before.

Posted by: BinM | January 10, 2009 11:56 AM | Report abuse

Sheinin is probably right. The Mets may have improved some, but not yet as much as they need to do. Their rotation is really top heavy right now. Of course, they're much better than the Natioanls. The only question is whether the Mets have done enough to close the gap with the Phillies.

As for the Phils, they really haven't done much, if anything to improve themselves. On the other hand, they are the champions. They have a pretty good team.

The Braves have certainly lost some key talent. Like, the Nats, they've lost out on the guys they were targeting. Unlike the Nats, the Braves have some major league talent in more than a handful of spots.

The Marlins, as ever, look like they've taken steps backwards. It has to be said, though, that the Marlins have a pretty good record in filling holes. Are they likely to contend. Certainly not. Neither are the Nationals.

Posted by: fischy | January 10, 2009 12:17 PM | Report abuse

@fischy
Yeah, but wouldn't it be nice to sign two top-ten draft picks & jump past the Braves & Marlins in the standings in 2010?

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

cokedispatch - it's funny to hear it was Mazzone who said that. I had remembered as Mazzilli a few days ago and obviously was wrong. Why I think it is funny about Mazzone saying that is Cabrera's best year was 2005 with Ray Miller and his next best was his first after Miller (2006). His K rate started to drop Mazzone's 2d year. I thought Mazzone messed him up, perhaps sacrificing swings and misses for control.

It seems from the quote, Mazzone recognizes that we have to let Cabrera use his stuff, even if he walks a bit more than an ideal pitcher. Best way perhaps to increase his k/bb ratio is to up the top line. He went from nearly 2:1 in 2005 to nearly 1:1 in 2008. His k/9 went from about 9 in 2005 - 06 (314 in 309+ innings) to 7.3 in 2007 (166 in 204.1 innings) to about 4 1/2 /9 in 2008 (95 in 180 innings.)

#4 - I think you are one of the ones who have commented on med issues. You probably saw this when it came out, but there is a great article on Dr. Andrews in this business magazine.

http://www.fastcompany.com/magazine/128/the-most-valuable-player-in-sports-is-this-doctor.html?page=0%2C6

What is interesting is that at least one team is using Andrews work on preventing pitching injuries to build specific strengthening programs for each pitchers (naturally, if I found it, you can guess which one). An Andrews disciple tests strength, apparently game to game, to guage how far pitchers can go. The theory is tired and weak muscles shift load to ligaments and bones and lead to injury, so by proper strengthening and preventing tiredness, injuries can be avoided. Brad Penny yesterday mentioned this program as a reason why he signed with that team I'm not mentioning.

It is a great shame this type of program was not in place for the Chief.

Posted by: jca-CrystalCity | January 10, 2009 1:05 PM | Report abuse

@jca:
That's part of what concerns me about St. Claire - he 'mucks about' with a pitchers' mechanics, rather than showing them a new grip or release point for a pitch. See Patterson, Chico, Cordero, maybe even Hill (he had arm problems prior to signing).

I think Miller/Mazzone tried to teach Cabrera a grip/release to develop for a sinker, without changing his mechanics significantly. If Cabrera can just 'show' the sinker occaisionally, his K/9 ratio might climb. That would be a good thing for him, and the Nationals moving forward.

Posted by: BinM | January 10, 2009 1:27 PM | Report abuse

jca:

Thanks for sharing this. Pitchers arm injuries and their seeming recent (and I mean by that in the last 30 years) increase is something that has always interested me.

A few years ago, I had the pleasure of working a clinic with the Head Baseball Coach at Amherst College, Bill Thurston. In addition to being one of the great characters in baseball, he also is a brilliant analyzer of pitching mechanics and their cause/effect relationship on arm injuries. I watched him break down HS pitchers' motions and predict when and what type of injury they would endure. It was fascinating. At that time, I wondered why MLB teams weren't doing the same thing.

I've always thought that Little League pitching rules and the way we baby young pitchers' arms in this country is the reason for the increase in injuries. The two reasons this has occurred is that 1) kids don't build arm strength and 2) they don't throw enough to expose their bad mechanics and then develop good ones.

Niel Huntington, the new Pirates GM, played for Thurston. Given the Pirates horrendous track record with developing pitchers, maybe he'll implement some of his old coach's philosophies.

Not to drone on about it, but Thurston was also instrumental is getting the aluminum bats changed at the amateur level from -5 to -3. He actually lobbied hard to return to wood, but Easton spent a lot of money to make sure that wouldn't happen. The changed has made the game much better and safer. I still wish though that we'd all play with wood or composite. That also might help amateur pitchers because they'd be able to throw more fastballs and fewer breaking pitches which would put less strain on the arm and build arm strength.

#4

Posted by: db423 | January 10, 2009 2:26 PM | Report abuse

@#4

I'd love to see them scrub aluminium bats from college BB; the bottom line becomes cost. Why would a college BB program lay out $5-10k+ annually for bats (wood or composite), when the team currently pays around $4k a year for replacement bats that last two years?

It's not like anyone except the top programs make any money annually on Baseball.

Posted by: BinM | January 10, 2009 3:19 PM | Report abuse

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