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Chief Throws, Nats Watch

When the Nationals unceremoniously dismissed injured closer Chad Cordero last year, they made clear they remained interested in re-signing their former all-star - just not at the $5 million or so he might have earned via arbitration had they held onto his rights.

It turns out the Nationals are following through on that statement. They were one of the teams who had a scout watching Wednesday in Anaheim, Calif., as Cordero, rehabbing from shoulder surgery, threw about 40 pitches at "70- to 75-percent" effort, according to agent Larry Reynolds.

"They've been showing up," Reynolds said of the Nationals.

Reynolds declined to address the identities of the other teams in attendance, or even the number of teams that have shown interest. According to various media reports, the Rangers, Brewers and Tigers have all been monitoring Cordero's progress.

"A couple of teams are getting antsy and talking about signing him right now," Reynolds said, "but we think it's better to get him closer to full strength first. The one consensus we got from [scouts at Wednesday's throwing session] is he's certainly not hurt. He's throwing free and easy, and now just a matter of getting in shape, getting stronger.

"We feel like there's going to be a pretty good closer coming on the [free agent] market here shortly."

Reynolds said scouts were told not to bother putting radar guns on Cordero during the mound session, because "this isn't about trying to go out there and throw 90 miles an hour and impress everyone."

Cordero, who had surgery to repair a torn labrum last July 8 after making only six appearances for the Nationals, should be at "full tilt" in another three or four weeks, Reynolds said, which could put him on pace to be ready to pitch in big league games by April.

"He's right on pace - probably ahead of pace," Reynolds said. "It's certainly not going to be July or August, as was indicated before."

The Nationals have acknowledged concern about their bullpen, which they did not address this winter. As things stand, right-hander Joel Hanrahan is expected to begin the season as closer.

By Dave Sheinin  |  February 19, 2009; 3:00 PM ET
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Uni number 32 is freed up thanks to Ocho Cinco...

Posted by: natsfan1a1 | February 19, 2009 3:10 PM | Report abuse

I say stick with Joely. We had our fun with the Chief, the Lerners' money will be better spent on younger players for the long term.

Posted by: sect104 | February 19, 2009 3:18 PM | Report abuse

The fan base (including myself) in DC loves Chad Cordero, but reading Larry Reynolds comments sounds like a snake oil salesman trying to sell damaged goods.

"A couple of teams are getting antsy and talking about signing him right now," Reynolds said..."

"Reynolds said scouts were told not to bother putting radar guns on Cordero during the mound session, because "this isn't about trying to go out there and throw 90 miles an hour and impress everyone.""

The Mets have reportedly already backed away from the negotiating table so who else was there besides the Nats?

My heart says sign him to a Minor League deal, but at the end of the day it is a gamble since The Chief isn't close to "closer" form yet.

Posted by: GoingGoingGone | February 19, 2009 3:21 PM | Report abuse

... but what would be his incentive to return to the Nats, who let him go and told him he wasn't worth the money? "We like you okay, kid, and we'll stick with you through thick ... but not thin. Call us when you're done rehab and then we'll really be interested."

... now that there are other teams with just as much to offer him as we have, would Washington be the siren call? I don't think his memories of the time spent here would be enough to make DC his top priority.

Posted by: natscanreduxit | February 19, 2009 3:23 PM | Report abuse

The Nationals are already on the hook for his rehab costs. The player's last team gets the bill until he signs elsewhere. If the Nats and Cordero can come to a mutually beneficial agreement, why not roll the dice?

Posted by: Brian_ | February 19, 2009 3:27 PM | Report abuse

Newposted. Or rather, screwed by the blog-owners pulling and deleting new posts. Nevertheless, here it is again.

"The ultimate question the Lerners have to answer is whether Bowden is the person they want at this critical juncture."

Well, if that's the ultimate question then the penultimate question has to be do they have someone ready to step in and take over the job when they dismiss Bowden? Because if they don't, then the answer to the ultimate question is not to fire Bowden. The facile answer that many people give to the question of who should replace Bowden is Rizzo, but I'm not at all sure that he would be the right choice - for several reasons, actually. First, does Rizzo actually want that job? Having observed his demeanor the one time I saw him in person (at the recent FanFest), it's not apparent that he has the makeup for the public-facing aspects of the GM job. He has to know that is a big part of the job, and if he knows he's not good at it or doesn't like doing it, he could well decide that's a big enough reason to not seek out such a position. Second, one thing that's never been in dispute about Bowden is that despite whatever his limitations may be, he works at that job 24/7/365. Not all of what he does is misguided, indeed most of it probably isn't. Would it be a good idea to remove that level of output and expect Rizzo and the remainder of the FO to simply assume that workload in addition to what they're already shouldering? Not if you're looking to make advancements in your organization or even stem its decline, it wouldn't be. Really, in order to fire Bowden for anything other than cause it seems to me they absolutely have to have a replacement for him from ouside the current organization lined up and ready to step in IMMEDIATELY. Or, if they do promote Rizzo they need to have a replacement ready to fill his current role IMMEDIATELY. Otherwise, they're not taking a step forward, they're taking a step back.

You know, the reason that old saying about the devil you have vs the devil you don't has survived all these years is because it's pretty much spot on. Okay, Bowden is bad. But if the alternative is a giant gaping hole in the GM job, he's still better than nothing.

Posted by: nunof1 | February 19, 2009 3:33 PM | Report abuse

Let me turn on the agent-speak translator here for a minute.

"A couple of teams are getting antsy and talking about signing him [to non-guaranteed minor league deals] right now," Reynolds said..."

Posted by: nunof1 | February 19, 2009 3:39 PM | Report abuse

@nunof1 - You are correct about having a replacement for Bowden, but this is not out of the blue stuff. The questions surrounding Bowden have been there for some time. There are GM options out there at the ready, even if you don't believe in Rizzo (which is hard to truly determine from seeing him at one NatsFest event).

The 24/7/365 thing with regards to Bowden is a bit overblown to me.

Does he work hard? I'm sure he does. Does he work any harder than any other GM? I find that much more difficult to believe.

The successful GMs are fully engaged. Giving Bowden too much credit for it is as misguided as those who fail to acknowledge the work he does in the first place.

Posted by: Brian_ | February 19, 2009 3:47 PM | Report abuse

Chief: a bit of advice - Detroit, not Texas, with your flyball tendencies and declining strikeout rate.

Posted by: jca-CrystalCity | February 19, 2009 4:03 PM | Report abuse

Y'all can get Bowden fired if you keep after him. The Nats know a restless fan base when they see one.

But keep in mind that Bowden has been very creative in getting players with almost no budget--Milledge, Dukes, Willingham, Olsen, Flores, Hanrahan, Shell, all the second basemen, drafting Zim, etc. And the Kearns and Filipe deal should have been a great one if they had performed as we all expected!

It is not Bowden's fault that the biggest contract in the Lerner era was Dunn's $20 million. And Bowden engineered the Dunn signing, waiting strategically until Dunn's value dropped to Lerner-levels. It is not Bowden's fault that he has only been able to trade for small contract guys in the Lerner era.

Do the other GMs dislike Jimbo? Maybe so, but mostly because Jimbo's financial constraints make their way into every trade discussion, blocking deals and testing the other GMs' patience.

Posted by: EdDC | February 19, 2009 4:11 PM | Report abuse


If the price is right, why not. He did the job when he was healthy, sometimes in very scary fashion, but, he did the job.

Posted by: Section505203 | February 19, 2009 5:08 PM | Report abuse

OH NO!!! PLEASE don't rehire the chief butter ball. Oh, talk about taking hugh steps backward. This is sooo frustrating.

Posted by: Pete433 | February 19, 2009 5:15 PM | Report abuse

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