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Finally, a Shining Moment for Kearns

Until Sunday afternoon, the previous two-plus months for Austin Kearns had been almost entirely about failure. From May 8 through July 25, he had 16 hits in 102 at-bats (.157) with two doubles and one RBI. So emphatic was this period of non-performance that it almost obscures the fact that, in the first month of the season, Kearns was a productive player. Remember that? He started in right field. He hit for a little pop. You could look at him, maybe with a little wishful thinking, and conclude, "This guy could totally be a .265-18 HR-75 RBI guy who plays good D."

There was never really a doubt this year about whether Kearns is overpaid (he is), or whether Kearns has the talent to live up to his Bowden star hype (he doesn't), but as of early May, you could still think of Kearns as an adequate run producer. The last two-plus months, in a way, have redefined his career in the very worst way. When he came to bat in the 10th inning of a 2-2 game Sunday afternoon, he had become a little-used role player, a defensive replacement whose salary no longer matches his profile, and whose friends (Nick Johnson, Adam Dunn, Josh Willingham, Ryan Zimmerman) occupy a drastically higher level of importance on the team.

But, through it all, Kearns has handled a tough period with dignity, saying little, complaining not at all. Kearns is a guy who takes a lot of pride in his game, so you know this season has been a serious ache; many players going through a comparable ordeal would have let their frustration show ... and maybe even spread.

So Kearns deserves a good moment. At least one. It happened Sunday, in what ranks among Washington's most rewarding wins of the season. Kearns got the game-winning RBI hit. Maybe -- take a look -- he even got a little teary-eyed in the postgame interview. One hit, granted, doesn't make a bad season good, but perhaps it can help. At minimum, it's a moment of levity in a year with all too few.

By Chico Harlan  |  July 27, 2009; 8:19 AM ET
 
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Comments

Well said.

When I think of Kearns with the Nats, I often harp on the time and money that have been wasted on him...but he's a good guy and deserves some time in the sun...even if it's just for a day.

Posted by: Howelsewouldateacherspendhistimeinthesummer | July 27, 2009 8:25 AM | Report abuse

Hey Gang...been a while for me.....just at thought from a previous "devils Advocate" point of view. We keep hearing about how this team needs a change of attitude.I keep thinking that being a "pros' pro" as epitomized by Austin and his band of brothers-sounds as if that's the kind of attitude the team wants to encourage. And maybe it is the taking refuge in this attitude that allows a culture of losing to persist."Oh well, at least we're playing the game the right way."I'm tired of rectitude without results. (Or the owners trumpeting their contribution to youth baseball in DC.How about the your MLB team?)
I'm not opposed to being a stand-up type of guy-just enough of the laying down when doing what you were brought here to do-play BASEBALL!
That said, I'm happy for A.K.Anyone who's had been in a situation where you can't seem to see the light-and certainly not for lack of effort or even ability-well, for that to play out publically...I think in some ways we should DFA him to give him a chance for a fresh start
Go Nats...

Posted by: zendo | July 27, 2009 8:45 AM | Report abuse

Debbie with her usual clueless interview asking none of the right questions for the situation. Duh, maybe "So Austin, how does it feel after such a tough season?" I know she's married to someone else in the organization but, please, how much more of her - and Bob, the Gee Whiz Aw Shucks I'm an Okie Kid - are we going to have to live through. If he calls the team "The Boys" one more time... Bob, this ain't Tulsa or even St. Louis for "gosh" sakes.

Posted by: truke | July 27, 2009 8:57 AM | Report abuse

Kearns will return to the bench and ride the pine till the end of the season, he has had his 15 minutes. In mid-Oct the Nats will announce who they have released and AK will be one of hopefully many. Kearns will file for FA and wait for that elusive call to come, but nobody will be looking for a consistent below .250 hitter at any price above the scrap-heap level. I shed no tears for any of PTBowdoins near misses.
The world is filled with good guys, its just that the Nats need major league players.

Posted by: TippyCanoe | July 27, 2009 9:10 AM | Report abuse

I was so happy for Kearns that I teared up a bit myself. I loved how the dugout emptied and they mobbed him afterwards. Maybe the fact that he is known to be one of the first to get his licks in with other players after such wins was a factor, but I felt that they were happy for him as well. One of my favorite wins this year for that reason. You could tell that Ray Knight was tickled, too.

Such moments are one of the reasons I love baseball. I'm with Riggleman: the blown save was frustrating but given how it all ended, I wouldn't trade it for anything.

Posted by: natsfan1a1 | July 27, 2009 9:20 AM | Report abuse

Nice moment for Kearns, but this is getting a little over the top. The guy's getting paid 8 million, and we're breaking our arms patting ourselves on the back that he is going about his business in a professional way? C'mon. The check-out folks at Harris Teeter are positive and professional too. Maybe we should sell tickets for $60 a pop and watch them too?

At least those people aren't taking roster spots and playing time from better players like Ryan Langerhans or Elijah Dukes. (Remind me, who started opening day?)

Nice guy, Austin Kearns. Now DFA him for chrissake.

Posted by: sbiel2 | July 27, 2009 9:25 AM | Report abuse

Nice guy, Austin Kearns. Now DFA him for chrissake.

Posted by: sbiel2

Man, and you people accuse me of being negative.

Kearns, Meathook, Gooz, Dukes, Thrillege, WiMP, FLop, PLoD, Nookie et al. All figments of JimBo's ever-fertile imagination.

Posted by: jdschulz50 | July 27, 2009 9:35 AM | Report abuse

To each his own.

In other news, found this on Biff Bobson's Rocket blog:

Former Nationals manager Manny Acta came to Nationals Park early Sunday afternoon. He did not stay for the game between the Nationals and Padres.

MLB.com was aware on Friday that Acta would be at the stadium, but Acta said via e-mail that he wasn't going to make a comment.

Posted by: natsfan1a1 | July 27, 2009 9:37 AM | Report abuse

Couldnt have said it better myself sbiel2...If I was making 8M to chew seeds and dip all game with my can nailed to the bench in an MLB clubhouse, I'd be in great spirits too.

Posted by: TheycallmeThriiiiiiilledge | July 27, 2009 9:38 AM | Report abuse

DFA him while he has a smile on his face. A total waste of money. Another pile of wasted $$$$$ courtesy of Bowden,the worst thing that happened to DC baseball. Although the Lerners are making up ground fast.

Posted by: ridgely1 | July 27, 2009 9:55 AM | Report abuse

I said this a while back and it still holds...Kearns will be back in camp with the Nats next year. He will accept whatever deal it takes (minor or MlB) to come to camp with his buddies and try to earn the money he has already been paid. I would rather a clean break from the Jimbo past but that is what seems to have been worked out already and at zero cost, not even a 40 man spot is needed....why not?

Posted by: JayBeee | July 27, 2009 10:04 AM | Report abuse

No Dunn deal ... yet

Word is that despite their denials, the Nationals are willing to trade Adam Dunn. Just one problem, it seems the team is asking way too much for the slugger.

http://msn.foxsports.com/other/pgStory?contentId=9848104#sport=News&photo=9848094

Posted by: trezmartin | July 27, 2009 10:20 AM | Report abuse

Divide the Nats payroll by the number of wins expected this year. Answer: $1.5 - $2M per game?

Looking at it that way, Kearn's hit is worth at least a few hundred thousand dollars. Add to that the Bad News Bears plot, the entertainment from the footage of 15 men patting one another on the fanny over a single measly win, and the country boy done good story line.

A few more plays like this and Austin will earn his full salary!

Posted by: nattydread1 | July 27, 2009 10:27 AM | Report abuse

Kearns is already under contract to the Nationals for next year. $10M team option, $1M player option. The same situation WMP was in coming into this year, just a higher price. It would cost the Nats the same amount to cut him now as it will to cut him later, so if they are unwilling to cut him now it's very likely that they will bring him to camp next year and try to wring every last chance for getting their money's worth out of him. The only way that won't happen is if Kearns is proud enough to turn down the $1M player option and become a free agent after this season. WMP wasn't proud enough to do that. Will Kearns be?

Posted by: FromTheEclipseThePlaceThatBobCarpenterCallsHome | July 27, 2009 10:35 AM | Report abuse

I swear some of you guys hate everything.

The first thing out of your mouths is "Lerners are cheap". The second is "Kearns sucks". What WILL you do if they start playing well?

These are not characters in a video game. They are people be respectful of that. Grow up and act like people yourselves.

Posted by: WashOut | July 27, 2009 10:41 AM | Report abuse

Tell me again why AK isn't on his way out of here yeah,yeah,yeah, i know it's his contract, and we sent Elijah Dukes back to the farm for more seasoning and everytime i read a post concerning next year its almost like ED is outta here too here's hoping he gets another shot maybe before this season is done.

Posted by: dargregmag | July 27, 2009 10:41 AM | Report abuse

I want to like Austin Kearns as a person, but he hasn't performed to MLB standards for a rightfielder. Really, he earns $50,000 per game. Every now and then he should be able to man up and drive a runner in. The only reason he's still with the Nationals is because there's no one better down on the farm and no other team is interested in trading for him. Godspeed, Austin, wherever you land.

Posted by: BrantAlyea | July 27, 2009 10:51 AM | Report abuse

In other news, do any of our Expos heritage fans remember the chicken scoreboard feature (it went up whenever a pitcher threw to first)? I'd never seen it but Rob Dibble was talking about the feature last night. Dibble said that he and the bullpen guys would have contests to see who could make the most chickens appear. I turned this item with some quick Googling (you'll need to scroll down to see the chicken entries):

http://sports.espn.go.com/mlb/columns/story?columnist=stark_jayson&id=1894215

Posted by: natsfan1a1 | July 27, 2009 10:52 AM | Report abuse

@trezmartin: "Word is that despite their denials, the Nationals are willing to trade Adam Dunn."

"Word is..."?!? What the heck does that mean? The line you quoted is a completely unattributed caption for a picture in a photo gallery.

This is completely useless information. When somebody in some baseball organization is quoted, then it becomes worth paying attention to.

Posted by: shepdave2003 | July 27, 2009 10:56 AM | Report abuse

Good for you AK. At least this is a man who tries every day. When he came up in the 10th, i said - well, at least he has been getting good at bats as a PH. He deserves a nice moment like this.

Posted by: DCguy7 | July 27, 2009 11:07 AM | Report abuse

Word is that Elijah Dukes will be traded soon, not Dunn or Willingham despite the many suitors for them. Word is that the Nats asking price is too high for those two. Word is that when the Dunn/Willingham suitors balk at the price, Rizzo and Kasten being the true used car salesmen they are will simply say "For that price, we can slide you right into a nice Dukes instead." Word is that someone will bite. You read it here first.

Posted by: FromTheEclipseThePlaceThatBobCarpenterCallsHome | July 27, 2009 11:10 AM | Report abuse

Natsfan,
I remember the chicken scoreboard. I was like 8 and a huge Expos fan when they had Raines, Dawson and Carter, and given that I also love chicken, I couldn't think of a better way to incorporate my love for the two. Needless to say, Raines' potency on the bases led to the presence of many a chicken on the scoreboard. It would be great to see the Nats bring that back, esp. with Morgan on the team. Cluck Cluck.

Posted by: jfromPG | July 27, 2009 11:13 AM | Report abuse

"Kearns is already under contract to the Nationals for next year. $10M team option, $1M player option."


Incorrect.
Contract Information for Austin Kearns
02/01/07: Signed three-year, $17.5 million contract w/2010 club option.
2009: $8 million
2010: $10 million club option w/$1 million buyout
2011: Free Agent

Posted by: dclifer97 | July 27, 2009 11:16 AM | Report abuse

Except, nobody shops at Harris Teeter and says "WE sure are selling some great arugala today!"

********************
The check-out folks at Harris Teeter are positive and professional too. Maybe we should sell tickets for $60 a pop and watch them too?

Posted by: sbiel2 | July 27, 2009 9:25 AM |

Posted by: Sec3mysofa | July 27, 2009 11:20 AM | Report abuse

Chickens on the scoreboard, good Lord!

If they do that, maybe they can play "Electric Slide" when somebody steals a base.

Posted by: Sec3mysofa | July 27, 2009 11:22 AM | Report abuse

As much as I've been waiting for Kearns to relocate, this story almost makes me feel sorry for him. I mean, it's got to be a really bad day when you make the news becuase you actually did something adequate...

Posted by: Kavorka | July 27, 2009 11:24 AM | Report abuse

> 2010: $10 million club option w/$1 million buyout

A $1M player option and a $1M buyout are the same thing. What that means is that the player gets $1M whether he shows up ready to play or not. Even if the team wants him to just go away, they still have to pay him the money. The only way the player doesn't get that money is if he opts not to play, either by retiring or saying "I'll take my chances as a free agent."

Posted by: FromTheEclipseThePlaceThatBobCarpenterCallsHome | July 27, 2009 11:40 AM | Report abuse

They're giving everyone else a tryout - now might be a good time to actually give Kearns some playing time. He may just need to actually play in order to get comfortable and confident again. It's not going to hurt anything at this point to give him some consistent playing time.

Posted by: AsstGM | July 27, 2009 11:43 AM | Report abuse

> The check-out folks at Harris Teeter are positive and professional too. Maybe we should sell tickets for $60 a pop and watch them too?

I was watching the folks at the Harris Teeter down below me, commenting on how positive and professional they are. Then my partner picked a fight with them and the cops came. He'll be posting soon from the Arlington County Jail, the place he now calls home.

Posted by: FromTheEclipseThePlaceThatBobCarpenterCallsHome | July 27, 2009 11:45 AM | Report abuse

I still keep seeing Wilson and Sanchez available and being shopped by Pittsburgh -one or both of them would help. I still like Guzman but Sanchez at 2B would be a solid tandem - or grab Wilson at SS and move Gooz to 2B.

Still looking at the Holliday trade to St Louis and thinking that could have been another huge piece of the puzzle for the Nats. I do believe in Rizzo though. He's getting rid of the deadwood and I do think he'll land something interesting for Dukes.

Posted by: AsstGM | July 27, 2009 11:50 AM | Report abuse

I used to love the chicken up at the Big Owe. It was even more annoying for the other team when the place was empty at the end and everything echoed, it sounded like a whole flock had descended.

Posted by: mjhoya12 | July 27, 2009 11:51 AM | Report abuse

I'm happy for Kearns, as a former Reds fan I've followed him his entire career. He showed great promise in his rookie year. My guess is that he never adjusted once pitchers saw he was vunerable to the inside pitch.

I really don't understand the hatred for Kearns here but whatever. Rizzo has already said he isn't going to be DFA'd so keep on dreaming Kearns haters, it ain't gonna happen. Kearns, by winning one game, has already earned his $8 mil more than Dmitri Young earned any of his $10 mil over two years, coming into camp out of shape, etc., essentially wasting a chance given him on a silver platter that he really didn't deserve. But there's no Dmitri Young hate here. Out of sight, out of mind, I guess.

Posted by: raymitten | July 27, 2009 11:53 AM | Report abuse

Langerhans is a Mariner. Difficult to bring him up if Kearns is DFA'd.

A buyout is not a player option. It isnt even like a player option. A buyout is a buyout. Give him $1 mil and he becomes a free agent. A player option allows the player to stay on the roster. Pena accepted his $2 mil player option and was later released. Totally different.

Posted by: LosDoceOcho | July 27, 2009 11:59 AM | Report abuse

"A $1M player option and a $1M buyout are the same thing. What that means is that the player gets $1M whether he shows up ready to play or not."

Actually, a player option would be something that a player can exercise and be on the team.

Posted by: dclifer97 | July 27, 2009 12:10 PM | Report abuse

> Actually, a player option would be something that a player can exercise and be on the team.

Exactly. That's why a player option and a buyout are the same thing. The player says "I want to be on the team" and the team has the choice of keeping him or not. But if they don't, they have to pay him anyway. That's exactly what happens any time a player signs a contract for a season. The team has to pay him, whether they want to or not. If the Nats for some perverse reason decide they want Kearns in 2010, they could have him for $1M if he agrees to it. He'd be their property until they explicitly release him, just like WMP was this year. Of course, if he thinks he's worth more than $1M somewhere else, he can decline the $1M and become a free agent. But the team can't get rid of him against his will without paying him. That's why it sometimes gets referred to as a buyout, but it's the same thing as a player option.

Posted by: FromTheEclipseThePlaceThatBobCarpenterCallsHome | July 27, 2009 12:29 PM | Report abuse

"That's why it sometimes gets referred to as a buyout, but it's the same thing as a player option."

Only you refer to them as the same.

Posted by: dclifer97 | July 27, 2009 12:32 PM | Report abuse

Dude,

How hard is it to understand that a buyout and a player option are NOT the same thing?

With the option, the player is under contract - with the buyout he is not.

It's that simple. We can either give Kearns 10mil to be under contract, or we give him 1mil to go away. Of course the team can re-sign him as a free agent for the league min or something, but he's a free agent.

I don't get why you're still arguing this?

Posted by: sec307 | July 27, 2009 12:32 PM | Report abuse

excercised buyout = player no longer on team

excercised option = player is still on team

Posted by: LosDoceOcho | July 27, 2009 12:33 PM | Report abuse

" If the Nats for some perverse reason decide they want Kearns in 2010, they could have him for $1M if he agrees to it."

If the Nats want him for 2010, they have to pay him $10m. If they don't want him, they have to pay him $1m.

If they don't want him for $10m, then they have to pay him the $1m buyout, then he becomes a free agent, then they would have to sign him to another contract. So that would be $1m + the new contract. It's not that difficult to understand.

Posted by: dclifer97 | July 27, 2009 12:36 PM | Report abuse

> With the option, the player is under contract - with the buyout he is not.

Duh, if the player is not under contract, then what's he getting bought out from?

The net effect is the same whatever you call it. The team has an option on the player at $10M. If they exercise it, he plays for $10M. If they don't, then he has the option to play for $1M if he wants to. If the team doesn't want him, then they have to pay him that $1M to go away. If he thinks he's worth more than that, though, he needs to decline that option in order to go somewhere else. He can't be bought out if he doesn't want to stay in the first place.

Posted by: FromTheEclipseThePlaceThatBobCarpenterCallsHome | July 27, 2009 12:42 PM | Report abuse

"If they don't, then he has the option to play for $1M if he wants to. "

NO HE DOES NOT.

Posted by: sec307 | July 27, 2009 12:45 PM | Report abuse

Actually, Kearns IS under contract for next year based on the way the option/buyout works. If the Nats want him, they can exercise their option by agreeing to pay him $10M. If they don't, they can buy out his contract for $1M and he becomes a free agent, free to sign with any club for the CBA minimum or better. If they want to sign him again, they'd have to negotiate with him like any free agent & would have to pay the veteran minimum in addition to the $1M. Paying him the $1M does NOT make him their property.

In other words, Kearns couldn't walk if he was the MVP this year & the Nats wanted him back for $10M. This is different than the WMP situation, in which BOTH the club and the player had options. When the Nats paid Pena $2M, they owned his rights and he was their property for 2009--they didn't have to cut him but did so to free up a roster spot. If the Nats pay Kearns $1M, they've effectively cut him and would have to negotiate a contract with him (since he could sign with anyone). The contract could be for any amount allowable under the CBA and would not have to be the $10M they would pay to have him that would preclude his negotiating with anyone anyone else.

Posted by: chiefwj | July 27, 2009 12:49 PM | Report abuse

"If they don't, then he has the option to play for $1M if he wants to."

That would be a PLAYER OPTION (which Kearns doesn't have).

"If the team doesn't want him, then they have to pay him that $1M to go away."

This is a BUYOUT CLAUSE.

The reason why I pointed out your error in the first place is because your statement "Kearns is already under contract to the Nationals for next year" is simply not true. Kearns doesn't have a player option. He has no say in whether he plays for the Nats next year (a player option would give him that). The Nats decide. Plain and simple. He, as the player, has no option.

Posted by: dclifer97 | July 27, 2009 12:52 PM | Report abuse

Folks, lie down, elevate your feet, drink something cool and return to reality:

Austin Kearns has about as much chance of returning to Washington next year as Richard Nixon.

Now, back to our regularly scheduled programming...

Posted by: jdschulz50 | July 27, 2009 12:52 PM | Report abuse

> Actually, Kearns IS under contract for next year based on the way the option/buyout works.

Thank you. This is all I was trying to say in the first place. If Kearns wants to come to camp next year he can, unless they pay him $1M to go away.

Posted by: FromTheEclipseThePlaceThatBobCarpenterCallsHome | July 27, 2009 12:53 PM | Report abuse

$10MM team option
$1 MM player option

The option, in both cases, is to be on the roster for 2010.

If the team chooses to exercise the option, they have a one-year contract for 2010 at $10MM. If the team declines to exercise the option, the player has the option: a one-year contract for $1MM (which the team agreed to when they negotiated this deal in the first place).

Like any player under contract, then, if the team wants him to go away, they can release him or trade him or whatever, but they still owe him said million bucks.

If both the team and the player decline to exercise their option, then the deal is done, he doesn't work for them anymore, and they can't tell him what to wear. He's out. Which he wouldn't do if he didn't have another job prospect, unless he really [AB] hates it there, or retires.

Suppose the team wants him, but not at $10, and they're willing to risk it that no one else will offer him more than that $1,000,000. Now it's a game of chicken.

See how this all ties together?

Posted by: Sec3mysofa | July 27, 2009 12:54 PM | Report abuse

"If Kearns wants to come to camp next year he can"

YOU ARE WRONG!

Posted by: dclifer97 | July 27, 2009 12:55 PM | Report abuse

I get it, you're just playing dumb, right?

Posted by: dclifer97 | July 27, 2009 12:57 PM | Report abuse

but, you say, Kearns doesn't have a player option? Just a guaranteed $1,000,000 if they don't exercise the team option? Sounds like a nice parting gift.

Posted by: Sec3mysofa | July 27, 2009 12:57 PM | Report abuse

From SI.com's Jon Heyman for what it's worth

"The Giants, still in the market for offense, have been following the Nats around. Word is, they are checking out OF Josh Willingham and 1B Nick Johnson. Either would help the Giants' anemic attack.

Giants GM Brian Sabean and Nats acting GM Mike Rizzo have a strong rapport, so perhaps something will get done.".

Posted by: leetee1955 | July 27, 2009 12:58 PM | Report abuse

If Kearns wants to come to camp next year he can, unless they pay him $1M to go away. If that's not the case, then what are they buying him out from with their $1M?


Posted by: FromTheEclipseThePlaceThatBobCarpenterCallsHome | July 27, 2009 1:00 PM | Report abuse

> Giants GM Brian Sabean and Nats acting GM Mike Rizzo have a strong rapport, so perhaps something will get done.

Good. Maybe Rizzo can outfit the Giants with a nice Elijah Dukes.

Posted by: FromTheEclipseThePlaceThatBobCarpenterCallsHome | July 27, 2009 1:01 PM | Report abuse

Hurray for Kearns. Give him his moment in the sun.

Posted by: periculum | July 27, 2009 1:06 PM | Report abuse

this should make everything crystal clear:
http://tinyurl.com/qhx8zb
Major League Baseball Player Contracts: An Investigation of the Empirical Properties of Real Options
Matthew Clayton
Dept. of Finance, Stern School of Business, New York University

The baseball contracts that we study feature widespread use of real options, and these options appear to be rationally valued through the adjustment of other payments over a contract's life. In our sample of 1,107 contracts signed by veteran players in the mid-1990s, option rights are included about 18% of the time, with a disproportionate concentration in the contracts of more highly-paid, talented players. Team options, equivalent to call options on a player's future services, are far more common than player options, which are put options on the same services.
Some contracts are complex enough to include both team and player options, some have a series of options that must be exercised sequentially, and still others include contingencies that require the team to exercise its option if the player meets performance goals. Regression analysis indicates that the presence of these options has significant explanatory power for player compensation. As option pricing theory would predict, we find that players receive higher guaranteed salaries when they allow the team to take options on their future services, and lower salaries when they retain options to extend their own contracts. The apparent value of team option premiums decreases as a function of the "spread," or option exercise price compared to annual salary, and increases as a function of the time until the option must be exercised. This relatively sophisticated use of contingent claims in baseball contracts may surprise readers, since baseball players and teams share a long reputation for inept, destructive negotiating.

Posted by: Sec3mysofa | July 27, 2009 1:16 PM | Report abuse

I'm still worried that the Giants need a third baseman, and Sabean is just dumb enough to pay what they'd ask.

****************
> Giants GM Brian Sabean and Nats acting GM Mike Rizzo have a strong rapport, so perhaps something will get done.
Good. Maybe Rizzo can outfit the Giants with a nice Elijah Dukes.

Posted by: FromTheEclipseThePlaceThatBobCarpenterCallsHome

Posted by: Sec3mysofa | July 27, 2009 1:21 PM | Report abuse

"If Kearns wants to come to camp next year he can, unless they pay him $1M to go away. If that's not the case, then what are they buying him out from with their $1M?"

They either pay him $10m or $1m. $10m to play or $1m to leave. Either way, it's the Nats' choice, not Kearns. If he wants to come to camp next year, he will be buying a ticket or selling hotdogs.

Posted by: dclifer97 | July 27, 2009 1:24 PM | Report abuse

"I'm still worried that the Giants need a third baseman, and Sabean is just dumb enough to pay what they'd ask."

I'd trade one Ryan Zimmerman for two Ryan Zimmermans, if he's really that dumb.

Posted by: Section506 | July 27, 2009 1:24 PM | Report abuse

"I'm still worried that the Giants need a third baseman, and Sabean is just dumb enough to pay what they'd ask."

They are dumb enough, but have a barren farm system.

Posted by: dclifer97 | July 27, 2009 1:25 PM | Report abuse

"If Kearns wants to come to camp next year he can, unless they pay him $1M to go away. If that's not the case, then what are they buying him out from with their $1M?"

I'm not sure how you don't get this at this point. The difference is between who makes the choice. Kearns has a team option, so the team has the option (oddly enough...)on whether to retain him.

The thing that I think is confusing you is that Kearns' agent worked into the contract a penalty for taking the "no" option of $1 million. It's called a "buyout" but a penalty is a more accurate way of thinking about it.

Vis-a-vis a player option where the player picks whether to be with the team next year or not. And the team can decide whether it pays the salary, but cuts him anyways. Like Wily Mo had.

To say they're the same is ridiculous, because who makes the decision is the crux of the whole matter anyway.

Posted by: Section506 | July 27, 2009 1:29 PM | Report abuse

Wow, dclifer, we seem to be on the same response schedule.

Posted by: Section506 | July 27, 2009 1:30 PM | Report abuse

Welcome to all Kearns all day blog central. I think this exercise in futility has been exhausted...next subject, bueller - bueller -

Posted by: cokedispatch | July 27, 2009 1:30 PM | Report abuse

One of the things I love about baseball is that, more than any other sport, it gives the underdog an equal opportunity to excel in crucial situations. Austin Kearns must be hurting all the time, and wondering if every day may be his last as a professional baseball player. But here he gets to win a game into which he was inserted for defense. It makes me happy to see people succeed in those circumstances. And, for my money, to stay focused every single second on how bad the team is or how much you hate Jim Bowden or Manny Acta or the Lerners, so that there can never ever be a joyful moment, is wasting finite time.

Posted by: markfromark | July 27, 2009 1:31 PM | Report abuse

"ABM,

That' s 4 out of 5 now. Went to the game. Riggs continues to differentiate his team from Acta. He makes better decisions with the pitching staff."


I think its more than that.

Noting 11 strikeouts against 4 walks in the last 2 games. The line on pitchers shows them taking extra pains to limit free rides to the base paths. Even at the risk of allowing hits.

Its a complete change in philosophy as far as the entire pitching staff goes. Not sure if was Riggleman and McCatty or something Acta was working into? Certainly Rizzo must have be involved? They key was acquiring Morgan, that has to be considered key to the change in philosophy and even using Willie Harris in the outfield more. Plus, as much as everyone complains about it: Kearns.

Pitchers are more aggressive, going for the strike zone ... making every effort to limit walks, wild pitches ... maintaining control.

The pitching staff right now looks to Lannan and Stammen who have been giving them 8 or more innings of late. Then Martin the control pitcher has to follow. Then Mock followed by Balester.

Once Martin gets comfortable we may see 3 pitchers giving quality starts. I'm not sure what that will translate into in terms of wins and losses ... I am hoping, praying for a dramatic change ... but realistically I will have to settle for the Nats share of more series wins if McDougal can continue to pitch well.

Posted by: periculum | July 27, 2009 1:35 PM | Report abuse

"Its a complete change in philosophy as far as the entire pitching staff goes. Not sure if was Riggleman and McCatty or something Acta was working into?"

Could it be no Daniel Cabrera and pitching in pain Scott Olsen? And no Kipp Wells? And Joel Hanrahan? And Logan Kensing? Oh wait, a minute...

Posted by: Section506 | July 27, 2009 1:40 PM | Report abuse

Well said, markfromark.

Posted by: natsfan1a1 | July 27, 2009 1:42 PM | Report abuse

506, there you go dragging those silly facts into the argument again...

Posted by: baltova1 | July 27, 2009 1:49 PM | Report abuse

Good grief! Classic vignettes from those who, per chance, follow a sports blog while at work. Some perhaps, at tax payers expense.
______________________________
"Nice moment for Kearns, but this is getting a little over the top. The guy's getting paid 8 million, and we're breaking our arms patting ourselves on the back that he is going about his business in a professional way?"

"Really, he earns $50,000 per game. Every now and then he should be able to man up and drive a runner in"
____________________________

Let's cheer for Kearns's success today. Nobody is suggesting that he is an all-star but the first rule of baseball fandom is that you should like (and maybe even cheer for) your team.

To do otherwise is analagous to the married man who is always looking for someone better. It is an ever-elusive search.

Posted by: lowcountry | July 27, 2009 1:51 PM | Report abuse

Every now and then even a blind squirrel finds a nut.

Posted by: Intrudr | July 27, 2009 2:02 PM | Report abuse

Can someone please explain the difference between a buyout and a club option. Also, is it possible to trade that option for a draft pick?

Posted by: goexpos2 | July 27, 2009 2:06 PM | Report abuse

"Could it be no Daniel Cabrera and pitching in pain Scott Olsen? And no Kipp Wells? And Joel Hanrahan? And Logan Kensing? Oh wait, a minute..."

And those pitchers were the worst culprits ...

The facts might also list Bergmann AND Clippard as two pitchers that were originally here ... And Beimel wasn't setting the world on fire. Villone (with Tavarez gone) looks to be the worst culprit. Kensing is back and that "philosophy" hopefully was instilled somewhat
in Syracuse.

Everyone likes to point to Cabrera. But with Lannan, Stammen, and one other pitcher providing quality starts from the beginning, plus a decent close wouldn't their record be different?

It looks to me like, more than anything else, it was the walks and the errors that was killing wins, snatching defeat from the jaws of victory.

That is what I am seeing.

Posted by: periculum | July 27, 2009 2:06 PM | Report abuse

Based on Rizzo's deal with the Pirates. Nothing is going to get done unless there is a huge advantage for this team right now, as well as in the future.

Posted by: periculum | July 27, 2009 2:11 PM | Report abuse

But with Lannan, Stammen, and one other pitcher providing quality starts from the beginning, plus a decent close wouldn't their record be different?

----

Not so much, because the bullpen was their biggest glaring problem at the beginning of the year (remember the Marlins series?). Yes, the pitching woes were compounded by bad fielding and very spotty hitting (has anyone ever seen a team where virtually every guy in the order has good individual numbers but the offense is still mediocre?).

That's why I think it's dangerous to fall into the trap of "hey, just a little tweak here and there and we'll be okay." This team lost 100 games last year and they're going to do it again this year. They're not doing it with a lineup entirely composed of young guys who are close to blossoming into stars. That means they're a bad team. You break up bad teams and start over. Hopefully, that's what Rizzo will do, starting in the next few days.

Posted by: baltova1 | July 27, 2009 2:18 PM | Report abuse

"This team lost 100 games last year and they're going to do it again this year. They're not doing it with a lineup entirely composed of young guys who are close to blossoming into stars. That means they're a bad team. You break up bad teams and start over. Hopefully, that's what Rizzo will do, starting in the next few days."

But that's darned harder than it looks ... unfortunately.

It appears as if MAYBE pitching that would fall in that category is covered ... probably relief pitching as well. But the positional players are way behind the curve. It may take a while before you see them jump from A to AA/AAA. Ian Desmond this year would be the surprising exception!

If Rizzo makes the deals now he risks winning only 45 games over the rest of the season. I'm not sure any GM could stomach that ... and his interim title (as is Riggleman's)?

My guess is he is going to be the hard nut and want deals like the one he made with Pittsburgh to get Morgan. Where he brings people in that can help him now ... as well as in the future.

Will the deals you suggest take place in the off season? I don't know ... I think over the long run you are right ... they need to get younger AND BETTER in AA and AAA as soon as they can at every position, while continuing to replenish at the "A" level. But how do you do that and continue to 100 games plus a year? Attendance, fan support, owner support etc. is already short in terms of patience?

So, its tough to do ... but I agree. Looking at the close to and over 30 FA types ... unless its a Texiera you are probably better off developing your own at this point. And pitching appears to be something they have already taken care of?

Dunn isn't that old ... if only he could field.

Posted by: periculum | July 27, 2009 2:27 PM | Report abuse

From SI.com's Jon Heyman for what it's worth

"The Giants, still in the market for offense, have been following the Nats around. Word is, they are checking out OF Josh Willingham and 1B Nick Johnson. Either would help the Giants' anemic attack.

Giants GM Brian Sabean and Nats acting GM Mike Rizzo have a strong rapport, so perhaps something will get done.".

Posted by: leetee1955 | July 27, 2009

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would rizzo ask for burruss? the giants have aguzmaic-bad contract with renteria at short who's not going anywhere and they play AAA journeymen at second instead of burruss.

Posted by: surly_w | July 27, 2009 2:40 PM | Report abuse

Dunn isn't that old ... if only he could field.

That statement summarizes the problem with this team. The same could be said about Willingham and Guzman. McDougal could be a good closer if you could trust him to throw strikes regularly. Zimmermann, Stammen, Detwiler, Martis, etc., could be good starters, if they get a little more experience and consistency. Clippard, Bergmann and Burnett could be good relievers, if they get a little more experience and consistency (of course, we thought the same thing last year about Hinckley, Shell and Hanrahan). Everywhere you turn on this team, you see "if's."

I think Rizzo can make trades in the next few days. I know some GM's think he's asking for too much but the Cleveland GM pointed out a lot of teams are overvaluing their prospects in these talks. I think he can find the right buyers to take what he's selling. Then he can get some guys who are major league ready prospects, add a few young veterans like Morgan, who aren't stars but are the right guys in the right place for the Nats. I'd then add a few moderate to high priced players in the offseason (a starting pitcher, an OF, maybe) through free agency or Japan. You then would hopefully have a competitive team while you wait for the farm system to upgrade itself and produce more talent.

Easy to say, but I don't think impossible to do. I mean, if the Cards were willing to trade three really good prospects for Halliday, wouldn't a team trade a prospect and a competent Morgan-like young veteran for Nick Johnson or Willingham?

Posted by: baltova1 | July 27, 2009 2:43 PM | Report abuse

Isn't he still recovering from the gunshot wound he gave himself? I thought we were done with that stuff when Bowden left.
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would rizzo ask for burruss? the giants have aguzmaic-bad contract with renteria at short who's not going anywhere and they play AAA journeymen at second instead of burruss.
Posted by: surly_w | July 27, 2009 2:40 PM

Posted by: Sec3mysofa | July 27, 2009 2:46 PM | Report abuse

surly_w, interesting thought. I'm sure he'd ask for a lot more than just Burruss, but he'd be an interesting addition. He hasn't shown he can hit yet, but he looks like a great fielder with speed. I'd sacrifice offense for defense at SS...

Posted by: baltova1 | July 27, 2009 2:47 PM | Report abuse

What? *Emmanuel* Burriss? Oh. Nevermind.
Although, he IS from DC.

Posted by: Sec3mysofa | July 27, 2009 2:48 PM | Report abuse

Depends on how badly they think they need Nick/Josh, and how stocked they think they are. "BAD and DEEP" gotta be a pretty short list, there.
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Easy to say, but I don't think impossible to do. I mean, if the Cards were willing to trade three really good prospects for Halliday, wouldn't a team trade a prospect and a competent Morgan-like young veteran for Nick Johnson or Willingham?

Posted by: baltova1 | July 27, 2009 2:43 PM |

Posted by: Sec3mysofa | July 27, 2009 2:52 PM | Report abuse

I know Chico is probably en route to Miller Park, but it seems since Tracee was promoted there's a lot less content on this here blog.

Posted by: leetee1955 | July 27, 2009 2:54 PM | Report abuse

"surly_w, interesting thought. I'm sure he'd ask for a lot more than just Burruss, but he'd be an interesting addition. He hasn't shown he can hit yet, but he looks like a great fielder with speed. I'd sacrifice offense for defense at SS..."

With Desmond and Espinosa on the way? They seem to be further along than most other positional players?

Posted by: periculum | July 27, 2009 3:05 PM | Report abuse

"would rizzo ask for burruss? the giants have aguzmaic-bad contract with renteria at short who's not going anywhere and they play AAA journeymen at second instead of burruss."

Rotoworld July 7th:
Emmanuel Burriss suffered a fracture of the fifth metatarsal in his left foot on Sunday during a game with Triple-A Fresno.

Burriss was optioned to Triple-A after suffering through an 0-for-27 slump during the month of June. The Giants were hoping he'd work his way back to the majors this season, but that appears unlikely. The San Francisco Chronicle is labeling him as "out indefinitely."

Posted by: dclifer97 | July 27, 2009 3:07 PM | Report abuse

Kearns has had his 2 big moments when he pegged out a runner at home in his WebGem moment and this hit which actually won the game.

We all know it is no fun riding the pine but Kearns usually looks like he hasn't slept the night before. $8 million to ride the pine should set a guy for life and he has had several years making million$ so make sure you thank Jim Bowden on the way out the door and could you spare a few million so the Nats can sign $trasburg.

Posted by: GoingGoingGone | July 27, 2009 3:14 PM | Report abuse

So is that a yes dclifer97?

Ehire Adrianza is another Rizzo like athletic slick defender. The Giants also have a number of b grade pitching prospects.

Posted by: soundbloke | July 27, 2009 3:14 PM | Report abuse

periculum

please don't take this wrong way but i asked about burriss because i've actually SEEN HIM PLAY ON THE MAJOR LEAGUE LEVEL. i've seen him at nats park with my own eyes. i have only seen desmond at potomac and have never seen espinosa. a player who has performed in the majors has much more value to me because of the competition than the statlines of a couple of minor leaguers. if dclifer97 hadn't pointed out that burriss is sidelined until next year, which i didn't know at the time because he has played in the majors i believed he would have been a worthwhile acquisition to create more of rizzo's beloved middle-infield "inventory."

Posted by: surly_w | July 27, 2009 3:25 PM | Report abuse

Switching gears to a positive note, fangraphs has an article up pretty much confirming everyone's love for Nyjer Morgan. Despite some critics who thought his capabilities in CF were overrated (coming from LF in Pittsburgh), he has proven in his short time here to be an unbelievably good outfielder, at least by the metrics (which in this case, serve to confirm what my eyes would lead me to believe!).

http://www.fangraphs.com/blogs/index.php/betancourt-and-morgan-revisited/

Posted by: faNATic | July 27, 2009 3:35 PM | Report abuse

Yes, I remember the scoreboard chicken at the Big Owe in Montreal. I always thought it was kind of lame, given that hold or pickoff throws over to first are a pretty standard play. Not as lame, however, as the once-a-game scoreboard dot race, sort of like the Presidents race at Nats game, except with electronic dots instead of real people/characters, and with the announcer excitedly calling the "race". Anybody else remember that?

Posted by: sposforever | July 27, 2009 3:37 PM | Report abuse

surly_w, exactly right. It's one thing for a guy even to get to the big leagues. It's another thing for him to become a quality player when he gets there. There's a real danger in saying, "Hey, no need to make a move. We've got a couple of good prospects on the way." You know, kind of what we heard with the starting pitching this year.

Ideally, the Nats will get guys on the AAA-major league bubble but on the rise or they get guys like Morgan and Burnett, who are more valuable to us than their old team.

Posted by: baltova1 | July 27, 2009 3:41 PM | Report abuse

I've been gladly participating, or maybe helping to lead, the anti-Kearns brigade, but let me be clear. I love the Nats. I waited over two decades for their arrival. I'm glad they're here. I have season tix and have gone to 25-35 games per year since 2005. I eat way too much ballpark food, and actually like Nationals Park. I'm one of the MASN 9,000. I have all four President's bobbleheads in my office. I love talking baseball strategy and learning something new about the game, often from my fellow fan-atics on this blog.

I just want the team to get better... as soon as possible. I can't wait for that mythical day in the future when my friends are begging me for my tickets, as opposed to chuckling and shaking their heads when they realize how much I like this terrible team.

So my disgust with the waste of a good roster spot on Kearns and the various other things I complain about doesn't prevent me from enjoying this team or this game. It's still some of the best entertainment that money can buy, and I love having a team to care about and root for.

Posted by: Section222 | July 27, 2009 3:54 PM | Report abuse

KNR (Kinda Nats Related)

Joel Sherman of the NY Post reports that the Mets have fired Tony Bernazard. I thought teams only fired personnel after they've been swept by the Nats, not lose two of three.

http://www.nypost.com/seven/07272009/sports/mets/mets_fire_tony_bernazard_181638.htm

Posted by: leetee1955 | July 27, 2009 3:58 PM | Report abuse

Hmmmmm,

okay, so why wouldn't it make sense to keep switch-hitting Guzman at short, while developing Alberto Gonzalez in the majors ... and Desmond (he looks just about ready for MLB experience) and Espinosa in the minors?

Unless associated players involved in any trade provide the same sort of value to the team that Morgan and Burnett provide? What would make Burruss more valuable under the current circumstances?

Posted by: periculum | July 27, 2009 4:07 PM | Report abuse

In other words, if you are going to put the emphasis on acquiring talent born as close to the median of 1988 as possible ... don't you have to put that talent on the field at some point?

Posted by: periculum | July 27, 2009 4:10 PM | Report abuse

Forget Emmanuel this year. And I too have seen him at the big league level (as well as in H.S., where I actually saw him from the field, while I was wearing gray pants & blue shirt).

I'm not a doctor and don't play one on TV, but a broken metatarsal is very painful and, since you put weight on it with every step you take, it takes beaucoup time to heal.

I really don't think that S.F. really has anything that we would like in their high farm system. I would parallel them to the BaltOs, in that they can never seem to figure out that they will need to spend 4 or 5 years in a building program and probably blow off that many seasons. I think that they were too dependent on Bonds for too many years to assure attendance. Also, like BaltOs, they are in a tough division with one of the really big money teams.

Of course, if they really want Nick J & Adam D, I'd make the deal for...Tim Lincecum. Don't think they'd go for it.

Posted by: Catcher50 | July 27, 2009 4:10 PM | Report abuse

I like idea of having Gonzo at SS and Guzzie at 2B. Problem is, Belliard is taking away AB's from Gonzo.

Posted by: FloresFan | July 27, 2009 4:11 PM | Report abuse

@222 -- Well said. My sentiments exactly.

Posted by: Baldino | July 27, 2009 4:11 PM | Report abuse

@Leetee55 -

There is a great piece in the ESPN / Kindle blog by Buster Olney about the "Guru" culture that exists and has for years (decades?) with the Mets.

That was one of the reasons that I was so glad that Peter A. didn't take the option of changing to the NL east. In any given year, either the Phils, Mets or both self-destruct.

Posted by: Catcher50 | July 27, 2009 4:15 PM | Report abuse

beep beep, new post.

Posted by: periculum | July 27, 2009 4:19 PM | Report abuse

Peri,

Are you overvaluing the Nats minor leaguers again?

Desmond and Espinosa are prospects that look good now however, the odds are stacked against them. There's more of a chance that they won't pan out than chances that they will.

Posted by: Section505203 | July 27, 2009 4:20 PM | Report abuse

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